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September 6, 2007


House Supports Green Chemistry

Bill aims to eliminate hazardous effects of chemical manufacturing

Glenn Hess

The House approved legislation by voice vote on Sept. 4 that would establish a federal interagency program and boost government funding for research into environmentally friendly alternatives to many traditional chemical products and manufacturing processes.

???Preventing pollution and hazardous waste from the start of a design process is far preferable to cleaning up that pollution and waste at a later date,??? says Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), chief sponsor of the Green Chemistry Research & Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 2850).

Mug Title Courtesy of Phil Gingrey
Mug Title Peter Cutts Photography

The legislation establishes a program that promotes and coordinates green chemistry R&D activities within four federal science agencies. It authorizes a total of $165 million in funding for R&D grants over the next three fiscal years, split among the NSF, the EPA, the National Institute of Standards & Technology, and the Department of Energy.

The interagency program would support grants to individual researchers, university/industry partnerships, R&D and technology transfer at federal laboratories, and the education and training of students in green chemistry and chemical engineering.

The House passed similar legislation in 2004 and again in 2006, but both measures died when the Senate failed to act. ???I hope the third time will truly be the charm for this bill because the sooner we enact green chemistry legislation, the sooner companies across America can utilize this innovative development,??? Gingrey says.

The initiative has received endorsement from the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, as well as the American Chemical Society. ???Green chemistry is the ultimate proof that environmental and economic benefits in chemistry can be optimized simultaneously,??? ACS President Catherine T. Hunt says. ???The technologies that spin out of this novel research are the seeds that can sustain small-business ventures and green corporate practices.

???From reducing and improving pharmaceutical processes, reinventing the home and construction business, to overcoming our climate and energy challenges, green chemistry is proving that economics and environment are not mutually exclusive,??? Hunt adds.

There is no companion Senate legislation yet, but an aide to Rep. Gingrey says Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) has expressed an interest in sponsoring a green chemistry measure.

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