Paul T. Anastas

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Paul T. Anastas served in the Obama Administration as the Assistant Administrator for Research and Development at the EPA beginning in January 2010. Although his immediate previous job was in academia, as a Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment (2006 - 2009) and the Director of the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering (2004 – 2009), he spent much of his past career serving in government. He began at the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances from 1989 to 1999 and then moved into the White House, working in the Environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. There, he held various positions, including Assistant Director, between 1999 and 2004.[1] During his time at the EPA in the 1990's, Anastas coined the term "Green Chemistry," defined as "the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances."[2] Between his stints in government, Anastas headed up the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute (GCI).[3] In 2010, Anastas was involved in the EPA's role in covering up the toxicity of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[4]

Testimony Before the Senate on Oil Dispersants, August 4, 2010

In an August 4, 2010 hearing before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, Anastas testified, admitting that the longterm effects of dispersants on aquatic life are unknown, but claiming that the EPA is not observing the dispersants in their monitoring and suggesting that the dispersants have perhaps broken down in the environment. He spoke of the EPA's tests of toxicity on two species. He said that the eight dispersants tested were non-toxic to mildly toxic, whereas the oil alone was moderately toxic. Together, he said, the oil and dispersants were no more toxic than the oil alone to the two species. He also maintained that the dispersants were successful in keeping the oil off of the shoreline and therefore any environmental impacts of their use were offset by the benefits of keeping oil from the Gulf coast. Anastas' claims during the testimony and subsequent questioning have been called into question by a number of scientists, who say that the dispersants are highly toxic with devastating effects to the long-term health of the marine ecosystem in the Gulf and it would have been more effective to allow the oil to break down without the use of dispersants at all.[6] See more about his testimony before the Senate in the August 4, 2010 Senate Hearing on Oil Dispersants.

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  1. Who Runs Gov: Paul Anastas, Accessed August 7, 2010
  2. "EPA's new research chief installed after long delay", Chemistry World, February 19, 2010, Accessed August 7, 2010.
  3. Kellyn Betts, "Anastas to head Green Chemistry Institute", Environmental Science and Technology, July 1, 2004, Accessed August 7, 2010
  4. Dan Froomkin, "Limited Test Finds Dispersant Not Adding Toxicity To Oil, But Questions Remain", Huffington Post, August 2, 2010, Accessed August 7, 2010
  5. China-US Center for Sustainable Development Board of Councilors, organizational web page, accessed June 21, 2013.
  6. "Caution Required for Gulf Oil Spill Clean-Up, Bioremediation Expert Says"], Science Daily, May 4, 2010.

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