The following is being
issued by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:
STATEMENT BY WILLIAM D. RUCKELSHAUS
First Administrator (1970-1973) and Former Administrator (1983-85),
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
For over thirty years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
dealt with the impacts of the last industrial revolution and the
technologies that were a key part of that transformation at the end of the
19th century -- the internal combustion engine, steam-generated
electricity, and basic chemical synthesis.
Today, another industrial revolution is occurring. It is being driven
by nanotechnology and its convergence with information technology and
biotechnology. Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential-for breakthroughs
in medicine, in the production of clean water and energy, and in computers
and electronics. It may be the single most important advance of this new
century. Nanotechnology, with its ability to fundamentally change the
properties of materials, may pose both the greatest challenge and biggest
opportunity for EPA in its history.
The very timely report issued today by the Project on Emerging
Nanotechnologies, EPA and Nanotechnology: Oversight for the 21st Century,
by former EPA Administrator for Policy, J. Clarence Davies, takes a close
look at EPA's current ability to address nanotechnology oversight. It
analyzes existing EPA statutory authorities and appropriately questions
whether they are sufficient for dealing with nanotech. Davies offers
valuable recommendations for reforming the regulations, including and
focusing on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which he helped draft.
The report's conclusion, that nanotechnology may serve as just the
right catalyst to revitalize the EPA, is backed up with in-depth analysis
and discussion. Faced with globalization and emerging 21st century issues,
the EPA must change to meet these new challenges.
Nanotechnology brings with it much uncertainty about potential risks to
human health and the environment. In order to prevent adverse harm and to
ensure that the benefits promised by nanotechnology are realized, EPA needs
to seriously consider the constructive and thoughtful changes that Davies
puts forward in his report.