Recommendation: The committee recommends that EPA develop a more systematic strategy to support innovation in science, technology, and practice.
In accomplishing the recommendation above, the agency would be well-advised to work on identifying more clearly the “signals” that it is or is not sending and to refine them as needed. Clearly identifying signals could be accomplished by seeking to identify the key desired outcomes of EPA’s regulatory programs and communicate the desired outcomes clearly to the private and public sector. The committee has identified several ways in which EPA could address this recommendation:
• Establish and periodically update an agency-wide innovation strategy that outlines key desired outcomes, processes for supporting innovation, and opportunities for collaboration. Such a strategy would identify incentives, disincentives, and opportunities in program offices to advance innovation. It would highlight collaborative needs, education, and training for staff to support innovation.
• Identify and implement cross-agency efforts to integrate innovative activities in different parts of the agency to achieve more substantial long-term innovation. One immediate example of such integration that is only beginning to occur is bringing the work on green chemistry from the Design for the Environment program together with the innovative work on high-throughput screening from the ToxCast program to improve application of innovative toxicity-testing tools to the design of green chemicals.
• Explicitly examine the effects of new regulatory and nonregulatory programs on innovation while ascertaining environmental and economic effects. Such an “innovation impact assessment” could, in part, inform the economic evaluation as a structure that encourages technologic innovation that may lead to long-term cost reductions. The assessment could also function as a stand-alone activity to evaluate how regulations could encourage or discourage innovation in a number of activities and sectors. It could help to identify what research and technical support and incentives are necessary to encourage innovation that reduces environmental and health effects while stimulating economic benefits.
Science That Takes the Long View
As the committee has emphasized, the nature and scope of environmental challenges are changing rapidly, as are the scientific and technologic tools and concepts for dealing with them. For instance, the importance of nanoparticles was not evident 2 decades ago. The problems that EPA will face 1 or 2 decades from now are certain to include some challenges that we cannot imagine today. But environmental-protection science in EPA has, for the most part, focused on effects over shorter periods, in single media, or over small spatial scales. That is understandable given regulatory demands for science. However, if EPA is to