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Recently I took part in a one-day roundtable to advance ‘Sustainable Chemistry in RD&D to Transform the Chemicals Industry.’ The focus was how to advance research, development and demonstration of sustainable chemistry and how the Department of Energy could play a role. This one-day event, held March 7, 2023 in Washington DC, was co-hosted by the Dept of Energy/Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office and the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council.
I was asked to open this panel by addressing why environmental justice (EJ) is a critical component of safe and sustainable chemistry. The audience included executives of chemical industry start-ups and Department of Energy program officers. Were people in the room familiar with the term ‘environmental justice’ and the history of impacted communities? How much was chemical toxicity a focus among Department of Energy policy makers? Not knowing the answers, I presented the following five points.