Environmental Protection Agency Proposes Closing Office Responsible for Researching Effects of Chemicals on Humans

Mar 2, 2018

In a bold move that breaks with previous administrations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed combining the grants, contracts and administrative functions of the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), part of the Office of Research and Development (ORD), with two other administrative grants-focused offices. A new Office of Resource Management would be created and tasked with some of the other functions of the NCER and offices of Administration and Research Support, and Program Accountability and Resource Management.

In a statement to Newsweek, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman explained, “In order to maintain the quality of EPA’s research, ORD career and political leaders are proposing management efficiencies to staff. ORD is proposing combining offices and functions into a new Office of Resource Management, including reorganizing staff to the labs and offices where their expertise is most effective.”

One of NCER’s primary functions was administering grants and fellowship research projects investigating the effects of chemical exposure on humans. Opponents of this merger argue that this move eliminates the EPA’s research arm. In an email to E+E News, Thomas Burke, Head of ORD under the Obama administration said, “Is this another assault on the scientific capacity of the nation to address emerging environmental problems, or is this truly a step forward in organization and accountability and independence of science? That's the important question, and that I don't know.”

A report released by the National Academy of Sciences last year cited the STAR program for its numerous successes, including research on human health implications of air pollution, on environmental effects on children’s health and well-being, and on interactions between climate change and air quality. The full report is available at:  https://www.nap.edu/read/24757/chapter/1

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