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Building a Foundation for Sound Environmental Decisions
report of that study, Improving Research Management and Peer Review Practices in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will be available by the fall of 1997.) An interim report from this committee (Appendix 1) assessed the ORD draft strategic plan. This final report is based on collection of information related to environmental research programs and deliberations, including four committee meetings, over a period of approximately nine months.
SCOPE OF THIS REPORT
This report includes a broad overview of current and emerging environmental issues, as compiled from a review of two dozen recent reports on environmental research augmented by committee input. After much discussion, the committee decided that, rather than simply turn this rather long list into a shorter list of problems that appear important at this moment in time, it would be more useful to EPA to describe a lasting framework for environmental research and encourage the agency to build and nurture its own internal capacity for identifying and selecting future research areas. The report also describes major research themes and programs of relevance to EPA; suggests criteria that can be used to identify and prioritize among important research areas; recommends actions EPA should take to build its scientific capacity; and provides illustrations of the kinds of research projects that EPA should consider.
This report is not intended to be highly technical. The advice it contains is targeted primarily to an audience of environmental policymakers and managers, as well as anyone with a broad interest in the conduct of environmental research. The report explains how environmental research can play a critical role in achieving the dual goals of finding workable solutions to current environmental problems while developing the scientific capacity to recognize and better respond to future problems. As stated in the report Safeguarding the Future: Credible Science, Credible Decisions (EPA, 1992):
[S]cience is one of the soundest investments the nation can make for the future. Strong science provides the foundation for credible environmental decision making. With a better understanding of environmental risks to people and ecosystems, EPA can target the hazards that pose the greatest risks, anticipate environmental problems before they reach a critical level, and develop strategies that use the nation's, and the world's, environmental protection dollars wisely.