The move is the agency's latest response to the unusually large number of FOIA requests to the EPA during President Trump's administration. It could also be an attempt to reduce fulfillment of such requests, since information obtained from previous requests has proved embarrassing to the agency. EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson testified before Congress in 2018 that he and other aides would try to delay "politically charged" requests, Wallace and Kaufman report.
The new rule takes a different tack. It "appears to allow, for example, the administrator to personally review his own documents, such as emails and calendars, and decide what to release and what to withhold, though he still must comply with the applicable laws governing the release of public documents," Wallace and Kaufman report. "At federal agencies, that process is typically in the hands of career employees and attorneys."