The Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) will convene an ad hoc committee to examine applications of numerous scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Using specific case studies it develops (e.g., environmental media and sector-based), the committee will consider the application of analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches in the Sustainability Assessment and Management (SAM) process presented in the 2011 NRC report Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. The recommended process is intended to assess options for optimizing environmental, social (including health), and economic outcomes in EPA decisions. The committee will focus on analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches and will not recommend specific policy choices.
In carrying out its task, the committee will consider key aspects of advancing sustainability such as the following:
• Currently available and emerging tools, methods, and approaches most appropriate for assessing and/or evaluating potential economic, social and environmental outcomes within an EPA decision context.
• Data needs, major assumptions, strengths, and limitations associated with currently available and emerging analytic and scientific tools, methods, approaches, and practices for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments supporting EPA decision making.
• Analytical and scientific tools, methods, metrics and approaches to assess and/or evaluate potential environmental, social, and economic effects of EPA actions (compared to pre-existing conditions) across geographic locations (including international), population subgroups, material lifecycles, environmental media, and future generations.
• Scientific and analytic approaches for initial screening to evaluate whether or not more in-depth analyses are warranted.
• Uncertainty in scientific results obtained from the application of analytical and scientific tools, methods, and approaches within environmental, economic, and social (including health) contexts.
• Post-decision evaluation of outcomes on dimensions of sustainability.
• Key research and development needs for improving the scientific and technical capabilities of current and emerging tools, methods, and approaches and assessing synergies and tradeoffs in order to incorporate sustainability concepts into assessments supporting EPA decision making.