Guest Editorial. Needed: research support - Environmental Science

Guest Editorial. Needed: research support - Environmental Science...

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GUEST EDITORIAL Needed= research support The time has come for the federal government, particularly the U S . Environmental Protection Agency, to establish an effective program for the support of basic environmental research. I am aware that in this era of Proposition 13isrtz one is ill advised to promote any new programs, but a partial reallocation of resources is needed at the very minimum. I f my observations are accurate, EPA and other agencies are spending precious little of their vast budgets on fundamental environmental research, and I contend that the result is w a s t e . . . waste because protocols are established before analytical schemes or models are appropriately tested; waste because criteria are promulgated without adequate scientific bases; waste due to research done too hastily; waste because attractive alternative methods have to be shunted aside because of the sanctity of work plans and report deadlines. Of course, I am not blind to the fact that many of EPA’s policies are the result of Congressional dictates. Nor am I proposing that EPA assume the responsibility for the support of all basic research related to environmental phenomena. Clearly, NSF, USGS, and other agencies also have a responsibility in this area. Equally clear, however, is the need for these agencies to coordinate their programs and, more to the point, for Congress to recognize the need for a well-coordinated fundamental program in environmental research.

Indeed, many hoped that EPA had recognized this nced when the center of excellence program was announced. While this program certainly has merit, what is needed more is broad-based support for the scientific community in areas that have long-term promiseand in some cases, no apparent promise at all--for the solution of environmental questions. In a broader sense, what is needed is for the Congress to recognize that research-basic research-is fundamental to the health of our economic system as well as for the preservation of man’s natural habitat. Research properly planned and executed is a good investment of public money. Let us hope that Congress iind EPA will continue to evaluate its importance and place basic research at a higher priority position in the federal budget.

Dr. William H. Glaze is Professor of Chemistry at North Texas State Uniuerrrty i n Denton, Tex., and former Director of the Institute of Applied Sciences.

Volume 13, Number 9, September 1979