Apr 29, 2010

Mr. EPA of Sustainability Goes To Washington

Paul T. Anastas is a scientific evangelist. More specifically, he is a green chemistry and green engineering evangelist, which should not be surprising as he is generally regarded as one of the "fathers" of the green chemistry movement.

However, as the new assistant administrator in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research & Development (ORD) and EPA's science adviser, Anastas is in a unique position to put his evangelism into practice. At the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco last month, where he delivered a keynote address (C&EN, March 29, page 7), Anastas sat down with C&EN to discuss his role at EPA and the challenges he faces.

Anastas, who is also the Teresa & H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University and director of Yale's Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering, was nominated to the EPA post in May 2009. His nomination was put on hold in the Senate for seven months over an issue unrelated to Anastas; he was confirmed on Dec. 24, 2009.
"It is a new day at EPA," Anastas said. "EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made it clear from our first conversation that science has an essential, central role in everything we do, every decision we make, how we go about pursuing our mission."
Early in our discussion, Anastas referred to a speech Jackson had given in early March at the National Press Club in which she had said, "It's time to put to rest the notion that economic growth and environmental protection are incompatible. It's time to finally dismiss this false choice."

"That is a recognition that environmental protection and good economics can work hand in hand," Anastas observed. "For so long at EPA, we have been excellent at deeply understanding problems—the challenges in environmental health, human health—and quantifying, characterizing, and reviewing those problems. What's happening now is that we're complementing that understanding with a solutions orientation. Instead of just telling folks what's wrong, we're also saying, 'Here's how we are going to address those problems.' " 

Please read more at American Chemical Society