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Science Wednesday: Greetings from a “Strategic Optimist”

2010 January 6

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

I received a great holiday gift on December 24 when the U.S. Senate confirmed me as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). I am thrilled that President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson have trusted me with this incredible opportunity.

I take great pride in joining EPA’s leadership team, and am eager to get started with the important work ORD does in making a real difference for the American people.

Coming to EPA is kind of a homecoming for me. Over twenty years ago I joined the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances as chief of the industrial chemistry branch, and I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with my many EPA friends and extraordinary colleagues over the years.

The Office of Research and Development is a cornerstone of this Agency, seen in the fact that both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have emphasized cutting-edge, independent scientific analysis as critical to the work of EPA. We here at ORD have a chance to not only explore innovative solutions to protect our health and the environment, but to reassure the American people that nothing will compromise our commitment to openness and scientific integrity.

As we look toward the 40th anniversary of EPA’s founding, the issues we face are more complex and subtle than they were at our founding—and the need for the best science is greater than ever.

Those who know me well know that I consider myself a “strategic optimist.” That means I bring to the table an ambitious vision, and a firm understanding that we can only get there if we take the correct actions. Identifying those actions will require the best science and technology that ORD has to offer. That is why—like Administrator Jackson—my highest priorities for ORD are the integrity, independence, and transparency of the scientific processes, and the application of this science to the programs throughout EPA.

image of Assistant Administrator Paul AnastasAbout the Author: Prior to his confirmation as the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Paul T. Anastas was the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University, where he also served as the director of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. He is widely known as “the Father of Green Chemistry.” Anastas earned his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Brandeis University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Marliyn Lund permalink
    January 6, 2010

    Congratulations on your new assignment! I hope you can make a real impact on leading the EPA’s strategic vision for investment and focus for alternative energies, safety testing for pesticides and other chemicals and lead the way to better consumer education. If you are planning on any children’s initiatives I would love to help.

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 6, 2010

    An hours ago, I discovery a my thinking journey with the title “From a trial and error philosophy to become the network planning Philosophy”. Your “Strategic optimist” similar with my title, because now skeptical thinking is breaking out. We must optimistic to challenge everything problem in this universe. I hope your system in EPA will be bring human in the world better than before……..

  3. Al Bannet permalink
    January 7, 2010

    Strategic optimism, if it is genuine, must have a foundation in practice. So, are you willing to discuss the horrendous waste management dilemma facing the human race, and the related dilemma of overpopulation? What about 100% recycling of all such waste and garbage, and what about programs of peaceful family planning to reduce population pressure on the ecosystems and on each other? If you are willing to think and talk about these problems among your EPA associates and here on this forum, maybe I might actually feel some strategic optimism myself.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    January 10, 2010

    I am glad we have a real good person in you in charge of this office. There are some people who think the whole idea of global warming is nothing more than a hoax, and these people, though few in number, are still powerful well beyond their numbers. We need the best science available and the best, cleanest, most efficient technologies available. We also need to get away from the religious dogmas of the past that hold us back on even talking about ideas to deal with an explosion of births, especially in developing countries. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. David Mc permalink
    January 20, 2010

    Al Bannet, I’m pretty sure Paul is the real deal.
    I met him several years ago when I presented at a Green Chemistry Conference he organized. His aim was obviously more progress and hope than ego. That’s rare in a young man. Now he’s called a father!

    Congratulations Paul.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    January 22, 2011

    It is very nice to hear words from optimist. It will inspire us to do something.

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