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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is now accepting nominations of scientific experts to be considered for appointment to its Science Advisory Board (SAB) and four SAB standing committees. EPA is seeking candidates from a wide range of disciplines including analytical chemistry, forestry, modeling, toxicology, and benefit-cost analysis, among many others. The four SAB standing committees seeking experts are:

  • The Agricultural Science Committee (ASC) – It provides advice to the chartered SAB on matters that have been determined to have a significant direct impact on farming and agriculture-related industries;
  • The Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (CAAC) – It provides advice through the chartered SAB regarding selected toxicological reviews of environmental chemicals;
  • The Drinking Water Committee (DWC) – It provides advice on the scientific and technical aspects of EPA’s national drinking water program; and
  • The Radiation Advisory Committee (RAC) – It provides advice on radiation protection, radiation science, and radiation risk assessment.

Nominations will be accepted until May 1, 2020.

Tags: SAB

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) is investigating whether algae can be used to transform the Salton Sea, one of California’s largest and most polluted lakes, into a productive and profitable resource.  The Salton Sea Biomass Remediation project (SABRE), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), aims to use algae to rid the lake of pollutants while creating a renewable, domestic source of fuel and other chemicals.   Algae are known to thrive in environments like the Salton Sea, which contains elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus due to agricultural runoff. 
 
In the first phase of the project, Sandia partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research to investigate the efficacy of a new algal farming method, known as the “Algal Turf Scrubber” floway system.  The algae consume the nitrogen and phosphorus from the polluted water that is pumped into the system using solar-powered pumps.  Clean water is then deposited back into the lake.  
 
The second phase began in May and the initial results indicate that the system can produce a quantity of algae comparable to raceways, the traditional algal farming method.  The algae being grown are native to the area which makes it more resistant to attacks from local pathogens and predators.  By helping to clean polluted water, Sandia researchers have overcome a major criticism of algae as a biofuel source, specifically that farming algae requires too much water.  Additionally, the removal of pollutants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and other fertilizer components, is expected to provide a model of remediation for algae blooms.


 

On October 12, 2016, EPA convened a public advisory committee teleconference of the Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel.  This advisory meeting discussed comments from chartered Science Advisory Board (SAB) members from the draft report on EPA’s Framework for Assessing Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources.  The SAB panel announced plans to overhaul the current draft report to provide emission examples at various time scales.  This change, to include longer time spans, is supported by industry professionals who believe it better represents the full carbon sequestration benefits created through regrowth of biomass.  Inside EPA (subscription required) quoted the Environmental Defense Fund’s Steven Hamburg, noting that the SAB should “make clear the implications of picking different time horizons, as opposed to a priori picking a time horizon.”  There is not yet a schedule for when the next draft report will be released for review by the full SAB.