William D. Ruckelshaus, moving quickly to shore up the Environmental Protection Agency's sagging image, yesterday announced a new ethics policy that is to include the weekly release of appointment calendars kept by him and other top agency officials.
In his first day of his second tour of duty as EPA administrator, Ruckelshaus ordered that top officials make copies of their calendars available in the agency's press office each Friday.
Congressional investigators have subpoenaed the calendars of some former agency officials, looking for evidence of undue industry influence on EPA decisions. In one case, they found that the official had destroyed his calendars.
Rita M. Lavelle, former head of the hazardous waste cleanup division, earned a measure of notoriety when her appointment calendars were made public, disclosing that she had frequently dined with industry representatives at expensive Washington restaurants.
Lavelle later told a congressional panel that she was "embarrassed" to admit that she had never read the EPA ethics code. She was voted in contempt of Congress by the House Wednesday for refusing to honor a subpoena.
Ruckelshaus, saying that he intended to make good on his pledge to operate the agency "in a fishbowl," set out new policy in three other areas as well:
* Under the heading "General Principles," he said the agency will provide for the "fullest possible public participation in decision making," including a special effort to seek out the views of those affected by EPA decisions. Environmentalists and consumer groups have complained bitterly that their views were excluded from agency consideration over the last two years in favor of industry positions.
* Under "Litigation," Ruckelshaus said all communication with parties to lawsuits or formal adjudications, such as pesticide cancellations, must be done through attorneys assigned to the case. EPA critics have contended that, in the past, parties to lawsuits have attempted to influence enforcement decisions through political appointees.
* In "Rule-making Proceedings," Ruckelshaus ordered EPA employes to make sure all public comments are entered in its official docket, along with "any significant new factual information or argument likely to affect the final decision.