White House press secretary Jody Powell yesterday invited disgruntled officials of the Environmental Protection Agency to resign if they disagree with President Carter's attempts to loosen federal regulations in the fight against inflation.
EPA officials who are reportedly considering resigning, Powell said, "should be aware that their resignations will be gladly accepted at the earliest opportunity and should not be hesitant at all in offering them."
Powell was reacting to a published report of widespread dissatisfaction among EPA officials, some of whom were said to be considering resigning, because of a White House directive to reivew the cost of pending water pollution regulations and to consider alternative, less costly regulatory standards.
The directive was contained in a memorandum to EPA Administrator Douglas M. Costle from Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Alfred E. Kahn, Carter's chief inflation advister.
Costle met with the president for 20 minutes yesterday, but White House officials said it was related to the water pollution regulations controversy.
An EPA official yesterday acknowledged that there has been considerable unhappiness in the agency over what is viewed as White House attempts to bend environmental standards to meet the needs of the administration's anti-inflation program.
In announcing the anti-inflation program last year, Carter said the federal government would attempt to eliminate unnecessary or overly burdensome regulations in order to hold down costs and thus combat inflation. He named Costle to head a government regulatory council that is monitoring the regulatory process and its impact on the economy throughout the government.
Powell said the White House would welcome resignations from officials who oppose the president's attempts to bring "some realism" to government regulation and to "involve the government as a whole in the fight against inflation."