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Science & EPA: From Cutting Edge to Commonplace

2014 April 28
Gina McCarthy

April 28, 2014
5:14 pm EDT

Today I had the honor of giving a speech at the National Academy of Sciences to talk about the role that science plays in the work we do at EPA.

Science has been the backbone of the most significant advancements EPA has made in the past four decades and continues to be the engine that drives American prosperity and innovation for the future.

Through science, we uncovered secondhand smoke’s deadly link to lung disease. We set air quality standards to protect our children, our elderly, and our infirmed. Through science we learned that toxic fumes from leaded gasoline harm our kids’ brain development.

With science as our North Star, EPA has steered America away from health risk, and toward a higher quality of life. That’s why it’s worrisome that our science is under assault by a very small—but very vocal —group of critics.

Those critics are playing a dangerous game by discrediting the sound science our families and our businesses depend on everyday – And that’s what doesn’t make sense. I bet when those same critics get sick, they run to doctors and hospitals that rely on science. I bet they check out air quality forecasts from EPA and the National Weather Service—to see if their kids should be playing outside. I bet they buy dishwashers with Energy Star labels, take FDA approved medicine, and eat USDA approved meats.

To those calling EPA untrustworthy and unpopular—I’d like to remind them that without EPA, they wouldn’t have safe drinking water or healthy air. And we have these things because we follow the science—like the law demands.

In addition to ensuring public health, businesses are able to keep their competitive edge on the global stage because science fosters innovation. From smoke-stack scrubbers to catalytic converters—America inspires and innovates the world’s leading pollution control technologies – accounting for more than one and a half million jobs and $44 billion dollars in exports in 2008 alone. That’s more than other big U.S. sectors like plastics and rubber products. I want to encourage us to continue putting our faith in American ingenuity and innovation. The great thing is—our environmental laws recognize the need to cultivate that innovation.

When we follow the science—we all win. We all move forward. We have to keep trusting the leading role of science in America’s continuing story of progress.

To read more about the science behind EPA’s innovations, visit EPA’s science blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Jackie Rodgers permalink
    April 29, 2014


    I live on the island of Maui and we can’t breath fresh air because Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company burns sugarcane. Today and yesterday our skies were filled with smoke at ground level. The sun was bright orange coming up from behind the Volcano.
    Today Kihei is filled with smoke and the ash is the length of a hot dog.
    I can’t for the life of me understand why this is allowed to happen to all of the residence of Maui, just for the profit of an individual that calls themselves agriculture. Sugar is not a food. Why do we allow a sugar mill such as HC&S to continue burning 37,000 acres that surrounds so many people. This is cruel and has a devastating effect on our children.
    Our children are sick from the horrible toxic smoke that we can’t avoid. It fills our homes and fills our lungs.

    We need help from our federal government to make Hawaii stop polluting and harming the people here and all of our wildlife.
    Please do something. I want to have a healthy long life without health issue that are caused by Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company located on Maui.
    Burning coal and burning sugar is something that they want to keep secret. People come here not aware of the dangers stemming from the amount of pesticides, smoke, ash, soot and coal toxins that surround Kihei, year after year.
    This is a long lasting danger to all. This is harming future generations on Maui. This is altering the normal development of our children.
    We are begging you to make them stop!!! Please I can’t get a clean fresh breath of air for my body to live on:-(((((((

  2. Patrick permalink
    April 29, 2014

    The FDA approved Propecia which is not safe, so I wouldn’t exactly call that sound science.

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