The Future is Sustainability

On the second day in December the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commemorates four decades of work on behalf of the environment. On the final day of November the agency made a special announcement at the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Science (NAS) on the future of the EPA. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, along with NAS President Ralph Cicerone, revealed the launch of a new National Research Council (NRC) study to provide an operational framework for the EPA to incorporate sustainability into all its programs. The study will help the agency build upon its expertise in protecting human health and the environment. The speech coincided with the Aspen Institute’s unveiling of a list of the ten ways EPA has strengthened America.

The NRC will produce a Green Book that will focus on energy, water, material and land issues. In summer 2011 the report will be completed and the EPA will review the recommendations. This effort signifies a shift in the environmental protection movement to confront challenges through a sustainability lens.

Dr. Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, stated, “there is widespread recognition across the scientific community that sustainability, holistic thinking, and a systems approach to environmental protection are the only way forward. The study launched yesterday is the critical step that so many sustainability scientists have been waiting for.”