The Environmental Research, Development & Demonstration Authorization Act addresses those activities at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA).
EPA’s statutory mandate for research and development (R&D) grew piecemeal from provisions of many environmental protection laws as enacted or amended over the years. The authority to conduct basic and applied research, to develop and demonstrate new technologies, to monitor the ambient environment — air, water, land, plants, and animals — and to conduct diverse special studies was conferred by Congress in two ways: in the context of at least 12 different environmental protection laws and in the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act (ERDDA). The 12 environmental protection statutes are listed below.
- Table 1. Statutory Environmental Research and Development Provisions
- Clean Water Act, especially Title I, Sections 104-11;
- Safe Drinking Water Act, especially Sections 1442 and 1444;
- Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act), especially Title II and Title IV;
- Solid Waste Disposal Act and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act Subtitle H, Sections 8001-8007;
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Section 20;
- Clean Air Act, especially Sections 103, 104, 153, and 319;
- Pesticide Research Act;
- Noise Control Act, Section 14;
- Toxic Substances Control Act, especially Section 10;
- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 204(5);
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 (Superfund); Sec. 311 as amended by SARA Sec. 209;
- Acid Precipitation Act of 1980
Table 2. Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act and Amendments (codified as 42 U.S.C. 4361-4370)
Public Law Number
|1976||Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act||P.L. 94-475|
|1977||ERDDA of 1978||P.L. 95-155|
|1978||ERDDA of 1979||P.L. 95-477|
|1979||ERDDA of 1980||P.L. 96-229|
|1980||ERDDA of 1981||P.L. 96-569|
The environmental R&D authorities contained in these statutes range from general to the highly specific. Some authorizations are for continuing programs; others are for one-time studies.
In 1976, Congress enacted ERDDA (P.L. 94-475) to consolidate annual authorization of appropriations for most of EPA’s R&D activity in a single statute. A major impetus for this was a decision by the House to consolidate jurisdiction for environmental R&D in the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
These statutes not only provided annual authorizations, but also contained directives on a number of R&D policy issues. For example, P.L. 94-475 required EPA to prepare a comprehensive five-year environmental R&D plan, to be submitted annually to Congress no later than two weeks after the President submits a budget, and P.L. 95-155 added the requirement that the five-year plan include projections for no-growth, moderate-growth, and high-growth budgets. To ensure the scientific quality of EPA activities, P.L. 95-155 created, within the agency, a Science Advisory Board. The Board has responsibilities for reviewing agency activities, including specifically the preparation of the five-year environmental R&D plan.
Table 3. Major U.S. Code Sections of the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Act46 (as amended) (codified as 42 U.S.C. 4361-4370)
|42 U.S.C.||Section Title|
|4361||Plan for research, development, and demonstration|
|4361a||Budget projections in annual revisions of plans for research, development and demonstration|
|4361b||Implementation by Administrator of Environmental Protection of “CHESS” investigative report; waiver inclusion of status of implementation requirements in annual revisions of plan for research, development, and demonstration|
|4363||Continuing and long-term environmental research and development|
|4363a||Pollution control technologies demonstration|
|4364||Expenditures of funds for research and development related to regulatory program activities|
|4365||Science Advisory Board|
|4366||Identification and coordination of research, development, and demonstration activities|
|4367||Reporting requirements of financial interests of officers and employees of Environmental Protection Agency|
|4368||Grants to qualified citizens|
|4369a||Reports on environmental research and development activities|
|4370||Reimbursement for use of facilities|
Other enactments addressed the issue of research coordination. P.L. 95-155 assigned EPA the lead role in coordinating all Federal environmental R&D, required the Council on Environmental Quality to prepare a study of interagency research coordination, and directed EPA to study and report on internal coordination of research with EPA’s regulatory programs. In P.L. 95-477 and P.L. 96-229, Congress explicitly forbade the Administration from transferring energy-related research conducted by EPA to the Department of Energy.
With regard to basic research, Congress has repeatedly directed the agency to maintain discrete programs of continuing, long-term research within each R&D activity, and to dedicate at least 15% of funds appropriated for each activity to such long-term research. In addition, from time to time, these enactments have specified funding for new research areas not previously proposed by EPA. For example, P.L. 95-477 specified $15 million for demonstrating wastewater reuse.
ERDDA was reauthorized four times. The last action in 1981 authorized appropriations of $364.7 million to EPA for environmental research. (As a cost-cutting measure, the act included a provision superimposing an across-the-board authorization cap equal to $8 million less than the sum of the specified authorizations for programs under the act.) In addition, ERDDA of 1981 subdivided the authorizations for many of the programs and limited EPA’s ability to transfer funds from one program category to another. For example, the $70,167,000 authorized under the Clean Air Act was divided into three categories: $45,243,000 for health and ecological effects; $4,099,000 for industrial processes; and $20,825,000 for monitoring and technical support. Other provisions specified certain projects. For example, of the Safe Drinking Water Act funds, $4 million was to be obligated and expended on groundwater research.
ERDDA’s process of annually authorizing EPA’s environmental R&D ended in 1981 when Congress did not enact an authorization for FY82. Thus, authorization of EPA’s environmental R&D expired September 30, 1981.
Amendments to some environmental protection statutes have included R&D authorizations — for example, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L.104-182), the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (P.L. 101- 549), the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (P.L. 98-616); the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-499), and the Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4).
Although the annual ERDDA authorizations, when enacted, provide the overall statutory authority for environmental R&D, the provisions of the various environmental protection statutes have remained in effect, and as previously noted, amendments to other environmental statutes often include new R&D provisions. Thus, EPA’s current and continuing authority for R&D activities derives from the combination of authorization provisions in basic environmental protection statutes, in laws that authorized appropriations for EPA’s overall R&D program annually (though the funding authorization has expired), and annual appropriations for EPA.
- U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The Role of Science at EPA and Fiscal Year 1993 Budget Authorization for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Hearing, 102d Congress, 2d session. March 19, 1992. Washington, GPO. 1992. 327 p.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Research, Development, and Technical Services at EPA: A New Beginning. EPA/600/R-94/122. July 1994. Washington. 183
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Note: The first version of this article was drawn from material prepared for the Congressional Research Service by Michael Simpson.