Report: EPA should push ‘sustainability,’ track ‘social’ policy outcomes

Font Size:

The National Research Council (NRC) has released a report laying out a framework for the Environmental Protection Agency to incorporate sustainability into its policies this week. The report advises the EPA to make policy decisions using a three-pillar system, examining environmental, economic, and social impacts.

Using the 1969 definition of sustainability from the National Environmental Policy Act and, it notes, a 2009 Executive Order, the framework aims to help the EPA track its progress creating and maintaining “conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, [and] that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”

“EPA is already engaged in many projects that further sustainability aims, but the adoption of this framework — implemented in stages — will lead to a growing body of experiences and successes with sustainability,” said Bernard Goldstein, chair of the author committee and environmental and occupational health professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Goldstein told The Daily Caller that the framework would likely take years to implement.

“The purpose of the report is to encourage EPA is to use a framework which allows it to measure the broad pillars, including economics and social — and by social, EPA is already doing much of this in its health based approaches — when it makes decisions about the environment,” Goldstein explained.

The NRC report stresses that health outcomes must be an integral part of how EPA evaluates “social” policy results. It also recommends that the agency apply a system of “sustainability assessment and management” to certain programs.

“To the extent that the laws permit, working with other agencies EPA should be able to incorporate [sustainability] using this framework,” Goldstein said.

Follow Caroline on Twitter