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Science Notebook


Transcript of Walt Kovalick audio

This is Walt Kovalick and I'm the assistant regional administrator for resources management in EPA's Chicago regional office and I want to talk a little bit about the Environmental Technology Council at EPA and the Action Teams that were formed in about two thousand three and two thousand four to carry out work to push on the development of environmental technologies. I was involved with the Environmental Technology Council as one of the three co-chairs of that group at the time.

The idea was to tap into the ideas and passions of the regions and headquarters folks to make early progress on getting technologies in the field that might be useful to solve environmental problems and we actually got a list together of some fifty-two ideas that people thought were worthwhile as well as technologies that people were aware of that might need the extra push to get them towards commercialization and came up with about eleven ideas which had enough multi-party interest, and formed these Action Teams. We were trying to pick things that people were excited about like pesticides spray drift and an infrared camera for remote sensing and lead abatement technologies and others. In some cases we had a technology that we knew about but it needed to be demonstrated, it needed to be the showcased, and so it was late in the stage of development and the Region would partner with the State or Headquarters Office with another federal agency and figure out a way to carry out that next step in the commercialization process.

Also the Action Teams were sometimes assembled around problems early in their development where research still needed to be done or there needed to be a better description of the problem and so those led to specification of announcements perhaps for our small business innovative research program which is a grants program to help get technologies launched that are merely ideas or prototypes for the inventor. So the Action Teams were into trying to get movement, action, on some stage of research, development, demonstration, verification, and commercialization spectrum. I think the thing that made the teams successful are the fact that they were not EPA only, they involved states, they involved vendors of technologies, they involved industry and other agencies. In the case of the ones involving lead paint, we were connected up with the Department of Housing and Urban Development whose concern was with housing stocks that have lead paint problems. So it was all about collaborating and figuring out how to work out and leverage off of each other's strength in order to push on commercialization.

So these several years later I think the good news story is that several of these projects, the result of volunteer efforts across the agency, have led to a technology that is either more widely used or technology that has been recognized by our regulations as equivalent to existing monitoring technologies or have the prospect very shortly of saving money or improving environmental performance.

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