EPA Research Chief Paul Anastas Announces Plan To Step Down.


Posted: January 5, 2012

EPA’s research chief, Paul Anastas, who has led the agency’s controversial chemical risk assessment program, is leaving the agency next month.

Anastas, the assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and agency science advisor, announced his plans in email to all ORD staff Jan. 5. Anastas will be returning to Yale University, where he is on leave from his position as a professor of green chemistry.

“With deeply mixed emotions, I am writing to inform you that I will be stepping down from my position . . . in mid-February in order to return to my colleagues and students at Yale University and — most importantly — to my wonderful family in New Haven, Connecticut,” Anastas writes.

Anastas is the second high-level EPA official to leave the agency in the past few months. Late last year, EPA toxics chief Steve Owens left the agency for a position in the private sector. While Anastas did not announce who will assume his EPA responsibilities, informed sources have suggested that Ramona Trovato, ORD associate assistant administrator, may serve as the office’s acting assistant administrator.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told EPA staff in an email that the agency will announce a “formal transition” in the coming weeks. “In the meantime, I assure you that science will remain the cornerstone of all of our Agency’s efforts and EPA scientists will continue to set the standard for cutting edge research and study — work that will yield a healthier, cleaner environment for all Americans,” she wrote Jan. 5.

Many observers have been expecting Anastas to leave, though late last year he denied any plans to depart. “I have no plans to leave. I am honored to be working with the people of ORD and am enjoying it immensely,” Anastas told Inside EPA Nov. 21. “Like all Presidential appointees, I serve at the pleasure of the President.”

But in the Jan. 5 email, Anastas writes, “While after mid-February, I will no longer be serving in an official capacity, I will continue to be part of the broader pursuit of sustainability through my work and research at Yale University. I have said before that while I can’t always guarantee the win, I will always guarantee the fight. I have fought beside you in taking the necessary steps to protect the health and environment of the American public.” Read more…