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Anastas Steps Down At EPA

Agency head of research will move back to Yale University after two years of political heat.

by Cheryl Hogue
January 16, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 3

Paul T. Anastas, a codeveloper of the principles of green chemistry and head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s research program since December 2009, is leaving the agency in mid-February.

Anastas is returning to Yale University, where he directed the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering before taking the top science job at EPA. He has been on leave from Yale while at EPA.

In a memo to the EPA Office of Research & Development (ORD), Anastas said he looks forward to rejoining his family in Connecticut.

As assistant administrator for ORD, Anastas reorganized the agency’s research efforts around the concept of sustainability (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es203881e).

Anastas got caught up in political controversy shortly after President Barack Obama nominated him for the EPA job. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) held up Anastas’ confirmation for months until EPA agreed to have the National Academy of Sciences review the agency’s draft hazard assessment of formaldehyde. In a report issued last April, NAS was highly critical of the formaldehyde document and offered unsolicited recommendations on how EPA should improve its chemical assessment program. Anastas moved quickly to begin implementation of those recommendations.

In 2011, Anastas faced harsh grilling at hearings from Republican congressmen who cast aspersions on EPA’s scientific integrity.

Anastas directed the ACS Green Chemistry Institute from 2004 to 2006. He was assistant director for environment at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy from 1999 to 2004.


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