By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) announced on July 21, 2022, publication of a new report entitled The Importance of Chemical Research to the U.S. Economy. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the American Chemical Society (ACS) asked NASEM to convene a committee to consider strategies to sustain and enhance the economic activity driven by fundamental research investments in the chemical sciences. The chapter on “Sustainability for the Chemical Economy” includes the following general conclusions:
- Implementing a circular economy will require a paradigm shift in the way products are designed, manufactured, and used, and how the waste products are collected and reused. These new processes, and the use of clean energy and new feedstocks to enable these processes, will require novel chemistries, tools, and new fundamental research at every stage of design;
- Transitioning the chemical economy into a new paradigm around sustainable manufacturing, in which environmental sustainability is balanced with the need for products that will improve quality of life, enhance security, and increase U.S. competitiveness, will require substantial investment and innovation from industry, government, and their academic partners to create and implement new chemical processes and practices;
- As fundamental chemical research continues to evolve, the next generation of research directions will prioritize the future of environmental sustainability and new energy technologies. Keeping sustainability principles in mind during every stage of research and development will be critical to accomplishing this goal;
- Chemical research will have the greatest impact addressing energy and environmental sustainability if researchers and practitioners develop and use tools to quantify and mitigate environmental and human health impacts of new discoveries, are aware of the societal implications of their work, and if the research is driven by policies that identify specific environmental sustainability outcomes; and
- As the world moves deeper into its current energy transition, including the switch to electric vehicles, the implementation of clean energy alternatives, and the use of new feedstock sources, coupled with an increasing focus on circularity, decarbonization, computation, measurement, and automation will significantly alter the operations and processes of current industries, creating new opportunities and challenges that will benefit from fundamental chemistry and chemical engineering advances.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
Dan Utech, Incoming Chief of Staff for EPA, announced to EPA on January 21, 2021, that until Michael Regan, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, is confirmed as EPA Administrator, Jane Nishida will serve as Acting Administrator. According to Utech, EPA will be guided by science as it moves to achieve these goals and address other threats to public health and the environment.
Utech states that Biden also signed an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government. In addition to providing a framework for advancing equity, it revokes Executive Order 13950, “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.”
Utech’s announcement includes the following updated list of current and acting leaders, as well as a list of the incoming appointees who onboarded this week.
Current and Acting Leadership
- Acting Administrator: Jane Nishida
- Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO): David Bloom
- Office of Air and Radiation (OAR): Joseph Goffman
- Office of Water (OW): Radhika Fox
- Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM): Barry Breen
- Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP): Michal Ilana Freedhoff (as of January 25, 2021)
- Office of Research and Development (ORD): Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta
- Office of General Counsel (OGC): Melissa Hoffer
- Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA): Larry Starfield
- Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA): Mark Kasman
- Office of Mission Support (OMS): Donna Vizian
- Office of Policy (OP): Victoria Arroyo
- Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations (OCIR): Robin Richardson
- Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education (OPEEE): Rosemary Enobakhare
- Office of Public Affairs (OPA): Lindsay Hamilton
- Region 1: Deb Szaro
- Region 2: Walter Mugdan
- Region 3: Diana Esher
- Region 4: John Blevins
- Region 5: Cheryl Newton
- Region 6: David Gray
- Region 7: Ed Chu
- Region 8: Deb Thomas
- Region 9: Deb Jordan
- Region 10: Michelle Pirzadeh
Members of the incoming EPA leadership team who onboarded this week:
- Radha Adhar, Deputy Associate Administrator for Congressional Affairs;
- Victoria Arroyo, Associate Administrator for Policy;
- Tomás Elias Carbonell, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Stationary Sources, OAR;
- Alison Cassady, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy;
- Dimple Chaudhary, Deputy General Counsel for Nationwide Resource Protection Programs;
- Rosemary Enobakhare, Associate Administrator for Public Engagement and Environmental Education;
- Philip Fine, Principal Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy;
- Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, OW;
- Michal Ilana Freedhoff, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention;
- Joseph Goffman, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, OAR;
- Lindsay Hamilton, Associate Administrator for Public Affairs;
- Sinceré Harris, White House Liaison;
- Melissa Hoffer, Principal Deputy General Counsel;
- Casey Katims, Deputy Associate Administrator for Intergovernmental Affairs; and
- John Lucey, Special Assistant to the Administrator.
On November 8, 2013, Heather Zichal, a longtime Obama Administration official and President Obama's top energy and environment advisor since 2011, left her position to pursue other opportunities. Zichal's next steps are not publicly known.
Zichal, a former Capitol Hill staffer, was an important supporter within the Administration of policies, including the RFS, designed to support the development and commercialization of biofuels and renewable chemicals. She will be replaced by her former deputy, Dan Utech, who is also a former Capitol Hill staffer. Utech will continue Zichal's work, including seeing the President's Climate Action Plan move forward.
On Monday, October 7, 2013, the White House announced that Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change, will be leaving her post in the coming weeks. Zichal has been advising the President on these issues for the past five years and is considered a friend to the biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products industries. For instance, she has been a strong proponent of maintaining the federal RFS and encouraging investment in biofuels. This year, Zichal helped lead the effort to roll out the President's comprehensive Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is no word on who will replace Zichal.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it will provide $40 million for a Center of Excellence (COE) on sustainable aviation fuel and the environment. The funds will be distributed in $4 million increments each year for the next ten years. Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be leading the effort, and several other universities will be involved. For a full list of participants and more information on the initiative, please see a copy of FAA's press release, which is available online.
This announcement illustrates the federal government's important role in and commitment to facilitating the ongoing development and commercialization of U.S. biofuels. This year, the FAA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) renewed their joint agreement to promote the development of aviation biofuels. They are aiming for one billion gallons of commercial aviation capacity by 2018.