sets and appropriate metrics need to be made available to program and regional offices that assess programs; that project progress toward sustainability; and that permit the public and decision makers to address sustainability issues efficiently and effectively (Box 6-1). Specifically, EPA must recognize the challenges of the long-term impacts of environmental management decisions made in the near-term time frame.
Incorporating sustainability into EPA’s mode of operation will require a shift toward a more systems-based approach that integrates multiple media, with multiple objectives in social, environmental, and economic pillars and considers both short-term and long-term consequences. Changing thinking within the organization is a large task with responsibilities throughout the agency. It requires a clear statement of principle about the importance of sustainability for the agency from
Damage to the Everglades due to the lack of a sustainable approach to land use in southern Florida led to a congressional authorization of $13.5 billion to fund the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP) in 2000. Half of this funding was expected to be raised by multiple local sponsors. Over the past 5 years, nearly $2 billion in combined contributions from federal and state partners has been provided to support CERP projects; the federal government expended almost $259 million, and it is estimated that local sponsors spent approximately $270 million on activities not related to land acquisition, which remains a major expense. As of 2009, the State of Florida has spent $1.26 billion to purchase more than 230,000 acres (CERP 2010). The restoration is expected to take a total of 30 years, but when completed, it is hoped that the hydrologic characteristics will be restored to previous levels to serve the natural and human demands on the ecosystem (State of Florida 2011). The Florida Everglades is a large and diverse aquatic ecosystem that over many years has been dramatically altered to increase regional productivity through flood control measures, water-supply needs, and agricultural production. The NRC Third Biennial Review of CERP (NRC 2011) recommended that the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) “complete a comprehensive scientific, technical, and cost-effectiveness analysis as a basis for assessing potential short- and long-term restoration alternatives and for optimizing restoration outcomes given state and federal financial constraints” (p. 12). The Everglades restoration provides another example where a sustainability framework that integrates the social, environmental, and economic dimensions required by such an analysis could potentially reduce the cost of the current multibillion dollar effort.