On May 4-5, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Executive Committee will meet to review the Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) six Strategic Research Action Plans (StRAP) for fiscal years (FY) 2023-2026. The meetings are open to the public. 87 Fed. Reg. 23861. BOSC will consider comments on the draft StRAPs that are submitted by May 3, 2022. Requests for the draft agenda or making a presentation at the meeting will be accepted until May 3, 2022. The meeting is open to the public. Registration is required.
The draft StRAPs outline the leading-edge research strategies necessary to provide the scientific foundation for EPA to execute its mandate to protect human health and the environment. ORD organized the StRAPs around each of its six National Research Programs and developed them through a series of listening sessions, workshops, and consultations with EPA partners; state, tribal, and local partners; and community groups. EPA plans to release the final StRAPs later this year. The draft StRAPs for ORD’s six National Research Programs include:
- Air, Climate, and Energy (ACE);
- Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS);
- Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA);
- Homeland Security (HS);
- Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR); and
- Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC).
According to the draft CSS StRAP, “[a] key issue with current chemical safety assessment is that traditional approaches have been unable to keep pace with innovations in chemical design, synthesis, and use.” The draft StRAP states that CSS will continue to:
- Develop the science needed to reduce, refine, and replace vertebrate animal testing consistent with EPA policies;
- Accelerate the pace of chemical assessment to enable its partners to make informed and timely decisions concerning the potential impacts of environmental chemicals on human health and the environment; and
- Provide leadership to transform chemical testing, screening, prioritization, and risk assessment practices.
While continuing its core research activities, ORD envisions that CSS will further incorporate cross-cutting research priorities. To be effective over the course of the StRAP, CSS will not only develop robust scientific data and innovative tools, but also interpretative frameworks.
According to the draft HERA StRAP, HERA “develops a portfolio of fit-for-purpose human health or environmental assessment products and assessment-related research to meet EPA’s wide-ranging statutory and regulatory needs.” HERA identifies, evaluates, and integrates existing and emerging information from diverse scientific disciplines to characterize human or environmental hazards. The draft StRAP states that HERA advances the science and practice of assessment through methods development, case studies, models, and tools that are tethered to assessment needs.
HERA “will continue as a leader in innovating and applying systematic review methods, including evidence integration and mapping.” According to the draft StRAP, areas of new or increasing emphasis will incorporate research relevant to children’s environmental health, equity and environmental justice, climate change, and cumulative risk. The draft StRAP states that HERA’s strategic direction “culminates in a program structured to facilitate efficient construction and production of high-quality, transparent, state-of-the-science assessment research that maximizes resources to address priority statutory, regulatory, and programmatic needs.”