National Academies Press: OpenBook

Sustainability and the U.S. EPA (2011)

Chapter:Front Matter

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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Sustainability
and the
U.S. EPA

Committee on Incorporating Sustainability in the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
Policy and Global Affairs Division

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                          OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS   500 Fifth Street, N.W.   Washington, D.C. 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract No. EP-C-09-003 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21252-6
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21252-9

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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COMMITTEE ON INCORPORATING SUSTAINABILITY IN THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Bernard D. Goldstein, M.D., (Chair), University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Leslie Carothers, L.L.B., L.L.M., Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C.

J. Clarence Davies, Ph.D., Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.

John Dernbach, J.D., Widener University School of Law, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Paul Gilman, Ph.D., Covanta Energy Corporation, Fairfield, New Jersey

Neil Hawkins, Sc.D., The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan

Michael Kavanaugh, Ph.D., P.E., Geosyntec Consultants, Oakland, California

Stephen Polasky, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota

Kenneth G. Ruffing, Ph.D., Independent Consultant, Paris, France

Armistead G. Russell, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Susanna H. Sutherland, M.S., City of Knoxville, Tennessee

Lauren Zeise, Ph.D., California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland, California

Science and Technology for Sustainability Program Staff

Marina Moses, DrPH, Director

Dominic Brose, Associate Program Officer

Jennifer Saunders, Program Officer

Dylan Richmond, Research Assistant

Patricia Koshel, Senior Program Officer

Emi Kameyama, Program Associate

Ruth Crossgrove, Senior Editor

Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic, Manager, Technical Information Center

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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Preface

Recognizing the importance of sustainability to its work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been examining applications in a variety of areas in order to better incorporate sustainability into decision making at the agency. The agency has also undertaken several sustainability initiatives, and can claim success in developing processes leading to sustainability. However, to further strengthen the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection, EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to convene a committee under the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) to provide an operational framework for integrating sustainability as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA. Specifically, in addition to being tasked with developing an operational framework for sustainability for EPA, the committee was asked to address how the existing framework rooted in the risk assessment/risk management paradigm can be integrated under the sustainability framework; identify the scientific and analytical tools needed to support the framework; and identify the expertise needed to support the framework.

In this report, Chapter 2 first provides a brief history of sustainability, Chapter 3 presents the proposed sustainability framework for EPA, and Chapter 4 discusses the processes and tools to support the proposed framework. In Chapters 5 and 6, the committee provides guidance about how the EPA decision-making process rooted in the risk assessment/risk management paradigm can be integrated into this new sustainability framework and includes a discussion of cultural “change management” at the agency. Finally, Chapter 7 closes by examining the relevance and utility of sustainability considerations in EPA’s accomplishment of its mission.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures ap-

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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proved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.

We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Michael Callahan, MDB, Inc.; Linda Fisher, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company; H. Christopher Frey, North Carolina State University; Howard Frumkin, University of Washington; Gerald Galloway, University of Maryland; F. Henry Habicht, SAIL Capital Partners; Ciannat Howett, Emory University; Pamela Matson, Stanford University; Kathleen McGinty, Weston Solutions Inc.; Hendrik Wolff, University of Washington; Terry Yosie, World Environment Center; and Rae Zimmerman, New York University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the National Academies, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

The committee gratefully acknowledges Paul Anastas, Alan Hecht, Jim Jones, John Frece, Ira Leighton, Mathy Stanislaus, Randy Hill, and Jared Blumenfeld, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Charles Powers, Vanderbilt University; Ellen Gilinsky, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; Justin Johnson, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation; Ann Klee, General Electric Company; Linda Fisher, DuPont; Deborah Swackhamer, University of Minnesota; and E. Donald Elliott, Yale Law School for making presentations to the committee.

The committee is also grateful for the assistance of NRC staff in preparing this report. Staff members who contributed to this effort are Marina Moses, director of the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program; Dominic Brose, associate program officer; Jennifer Saunders; program officer; Dylan Richmond, research assistant; Patricia Koshel, senior program officer; Emi Kameyama, program associate; Ruth Crossgrove, senior editor; and Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic, manager of the Technical Information Center.

We thank especially the members of the committee for their tireless efforts throughout the development of this report.

    

    

Bernard D. Goldstein, Chair

    

    

Committee on Incorporating Sustainability
in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13152.
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TABLES, BOXES, AND FIGURES

Tables

5-1

Differences Between Features of Risk Assessment and Risk Management and Sustainable Development

E-1

Policy-Based Sustainable Development Indicators

E-2

Outcome-Oriented Sustainable-Development Indicators

Boxes

2-1

International Sustainable Development Conferences

2-2

2009 Monitoring Report of EU Sustainable-Development Strategy

3-1

Examples of Management System Frameworks for Sustainability

3-2

Selected International and National Sustainability Principles

3-3

Goal, Indicator, and Metric

4-1

Biofuels

4-2

Scenarios for Global Biodiversity

4-3

Indicator Attributes

6-1

Everglades Restoration: The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project

6-2

Redevelopment of Boston’s Fairmount Rail Corridor: Addressing Environmental Justice Issues Through Multi-Agency and Community Collaboration

6-3

Approving New York City’s Water Supply Protection System

6-4

An Example of EPA’s Role in Facilitating State Activities that Achieve Environmental Goals: Improving Air Quality Through Land-Use Planning

6-5

Growing Collaboration on Redesigning Roofs

6-6

Presidential Green Chemistry Awards

7-1

Green Infrastructure: Sustainable Water Quality Solutions for Cities with Combined Sewer and Storm-Sewer Overflows

7-2

Using EPA Technical Assistance to Aid Advances in Stormwater Best Practices

7-3

Energy Savings Permit Cleanup of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Contamination in New York City Schools Without Layoff of Teachers

7-4

Sustainable Solutions to Air Pollution Associated with Public Transit Bus Depots in Northern Manhattan: An Environmental Justice Issue and Community Response

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Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. The environment provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

Recognizing the importance of sustainability to its work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to create programs and applications in a variety of areas to better incorporate sustainability into decision-making at the agency. To further strengthen the scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection, the EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide a framework for incorporating sustainability into the EPA's principles and decision-making.

This framework, Sustainability and the U.S. EPA, provides recommendations for a sustainability approach that both incorporates and goes beyond an approach based on assessing and managing the risks posed by pollutants that has largely shaped environmental policy since the 1980s. Although risk-based methods have led to many successes and remain important tools, the report concludes that they are not adequate to address many of the complex problems that put current and future generations at risk, such as depletion of natural resources, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. Moreover, sophisticated tools are increasingly available to address cross-cutting, complex, and challenging issues that go beyond risk management.

The report recommends that EPA formally adopt as its sustainability paradigm the widely used "three pillars" approach, which means considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of an action or decision. Health should be expressly included in the "social" pillar. EPA should also articulate its vision for sustainability and develop a set of sustainability principles that would underlie all agency policies and programs.

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