Environmental Center Launches Research Plans

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Officials from government, business and environmental groups met here Friday to plan projects for a new research center to help states and localities make better environmental decisions.

 The advisory board for the National Center for Environmental Decision Making Research is a “a reality check” for issues the Center will address, said Dr. Milton Russell, NCEDR director.

 ”The advisory board members represent the end users of our research product,” Russell said. “These are the people who will be making vitally important environmental decisions at the state and local levels. The center’s goal is to provide them with the tools and information they need.”

 NCEDR was established in October 1995 with a $5 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The center is operated by the Joint Institute for Energy and the Environment, a UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory-TVA consortium.

 Research in 1996 will focus on streamlining the decision-making process for issues such as hazardous waste remediation, pollution, and landfills. Researchers from UT, ORNL and TVA will study the way environmental decisions have been made in the past and identify ways the process can be improved. The dissemination of environmental decision-aiding resources on the World Wide Web will be part of the center’s outreach.

“While a lot of work has been undertaken to help federal decision makers with such problems as acid rain and global climate change, far less effort has gone into research that is applicable to the thousands of individually small but collectively crucial decisions that are made at the subnational level. NCEDR will fill this role,” Russell said.

 Dr. Homer Fisher, UT senior vice president and JIEE board chairman, said the new center exemplifies the kind of partnership UT seeks.

“This new center is a testimonial to the cooperative spirit and combined capabilities of TVA, ORNL and UT. It provides added encouragement for our working together at a time when such partnerships are a critical factor in attracting external funding and in serving our region and the nation.”

“The establishment of the NCEDR is an unprecedented opportunity to examine and improve the ways in which institutions and the public make decisions regarding our most pressing environmental challenges,” said Dr. Kathryn Jackson, TVA senior vice president. “TVA is pleased to be a part of this meaningful collaboration and is anticipating the NCEDR role in developing affordable and sustainable decision-making processes.”

 David Reichle, associate director of life sciences and environmental technologies for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said “environmental decision-making is a critically important national issue, involving wise use of scientific information and national resources to protect the environment — addressing real issues and not squandering resources on problems which are not substantive. This is an excellent opportunity for ORNL-TVA-UT to bring our collective capabilities to address issues of national concern.”

 Contact: Dr. Milton Russell (423-974-3939) or Stephanie Piper (423-974-5920)

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