STATEMENT OF NORINE E. NOONAN BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS THE UNITED STATES SENATE SEPTEMBER 10, 1998

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to present myself and my qualifications for the position of Assistant Administrator for Research and Development (ORD) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. I am deeply honored that President Clinton has nominated me for this position.

The position of Assistant Administrator for Research and Development is one of the principal science positions in our government. It is critical to our national goal of understanding, preserving and protecting our country's environment for the citizens of today and for future generations. It is, therefore, with great humility and with a sense of great responsibility that I appear before you ready to accept this task.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am currently Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Florida Institute of Technology. I am also a professor of Biological Sciences at that esteemed institution. My career has had three distinct phases. After complying my doctorate in cell biology at Princeton University, I accepted a position as a charter faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Florida. My research centered on the process that turns mammalian cells from normal to malignant and how this process affects the membranes of the cell and nucleus. I was a successful researcher and teacher, receiving tenure and promotion. I am proud to say that several of my former veterinary students knowledge of how Federal agencies deal with universities as performers of R&D. In addition to my responsibilities as Chief Research Of ricer, I have "cradle to grave" responsibility for nearly 1,000 graduate students on our main campus, about 30 percent of whom are doctoral students, and over 1,000 more at our off-campus graduate centers around the country. I have been intimately involved in fostering the linkage between university research and graduate education, and participating first hand in a national system that is the envy of the world, and one which produces not only our nation's future scholars and innovators, but educates a significant percentage of the world's scholars and innovators. May I say here that the increased emphasis that ORD has placed on supporting this education process by starting a graduate fellowship program and by expanding the recruitment of post-doctoral students for its internal research enterprise is, in my view, of great importance to maintaining ORD's long-term future as a leader in core and in problem-driven environmental research. I am proud to say I played a small part in the early stages of the graduate fellowship program and, from what I have observed, it is progressing in a very positive direction.

Over the past six years, I have also served on several study committees of the National Research Council. The work of two of these committees is worth noting here. On the Committee for Antarctic Policy and Science we dealt with the appropriate balance between scientific research and environmental stewardship in the context of the Antarctic Environmental Protocol. I am proud that our committee's work played a role in the passage of the implementing legislation that has enabled the Protocol to enter into force. I also served on the Committee to Develop an Environmental Management Science Program (EMSP). We assisted the Department of Energy in developing this research program to provide solid scientific underpinnings for its massive clean-up efforts. The role of EMSP is, in some ways, much like the role of ORD. EMSP was created to support basic research in the service, not of regulation, but of remediation. It was, and is, essential that the highest quality basic research be supported by EMSP, but it was also essential, especially in those early days, that the stakeholders both inside and outside of DOE be involved with the development of EMSP's general strategy and priorities. Like ORD, albeit on a smaller, more narrow scale, the EMSP represents science in the service of the agency's mission and has allowed DOE to approach many of its cleanup tasks on a firm scientific footing and move beyond what one of my committee colleagues termed, the "muck, suck and truck" cleanup philosophy.

Members of the Committee, if confirmed, I will "inherit" a sound and healthy organization. I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the ORD personnel and have been very impressed with their knowledge, professionalism and dedication. Much of the credit for this situation goes to my predecessor, Dr. Robert Huggett, who did a lot of "heavy lifting" to develop a strategic plan that focuses R&D activities to address the greatest risks, to reduce uncertainty in risk assessment and to develop cost-effective approaches to risk prevention and management. Dr. Huggett also realigned the laboratory structure of ORD based on this risk assessment/risk management paradigm. As I have observed, the ORD strategic planning process is closely linked to the overall agency process and to GPRA. In addition, ORD is working hard to enhance not only its internal research capabilities but, through its support of universities, to involve the nation's best and brightest scientists and engineers in ORD's programs.

In my opinion, it is essential that we continue on this positive path and, if confirmed, I would make it my goal to do so. ORD's own "ecological niche" is to advance knowledge with a purpose. ORD must include in its research portfolio a strong base of long term, core research to develop broadly applicable research tools and information on a variety of physical, biological, sociological, and economic processes. ORD must also have research programs to address shorter-term, problem-driven issues motivated, in many cases, by current or pending regulatory activities. This balanced portfolio strategy has been recommended by the National Research Council. One example of this balanced strategy in action is the issue of children and the environment. A key research question that must be addressed is: to what extent are children a sensitive population? I understand that ORD has an extensive research program underway which will provide much needed information about the biological susceptibility and possible developmental effects of environmental hazards, such as pesticides, in children, as well as unique patterns of exposure of children to such hazards. As one major element of this program, I understand that ORD is collaborating with the National Institutes of Health to fund eight Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health at leading research institutions. These centers will bring together the talents of some of the nation's leading researchers in public health and environmental science, and will also actively involve communities and community groups. This is precisely the collaborative, coordinated approach that I believe has the greatest probability of yielding research that is both scientifically valid and useful to the regulatory process -- no matter what the actual research results are.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, there are several themes that must continue to characterize ORD's mission: 1) the highest quality science and a strong and stable long-term core research program; 2) a problem-driven research program with its priorities set in close cooperation with the client regulatory offices; 3) development and maintenance of an outstanding cadre of scientists inside EPA; and 4) collaboration with other agencies, universities and the private sector. These are not new. But I believe we must continue to pursue them because they are the right. For myself, if confirmed, I will do in this job only what my late parents asked of me: my best. It's time to cement the institutional and organizational changes that have been made and to involve all of ORD's people as well as many of our external stakeholders in the next round of strategic planning. In my opinion, ORD has vitally important work to do in helping to identify and address, through research, the environmental issues our nation and the world face. If confirmed, I would be committed to making ORD an organization that bright young scientists want to work in, where intellectual excitement and commitment to important national goals are inextricably woven into the fabric of what we do every day. I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. If confirmed, I look forward to working with all of you, your colleagues, and your staff to achieve these goals. I'd be pleased to answer any questions you may have.