Summaries of Environmental Laws
Administered by the EPA
Congressional Research Service Report  RL30022
Redistributed as a service of the National Library for the Environment

Environmental Research, Development
& Demonstration Authorization Act

Prepared by Martin Lee, Specialist in Environmental Policy,
Environmental Protection Section, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division.


Table 1. Statutory Environmental Researchand Development Provisions
Table 2. Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act and Amendments
Selected References
Table 3. Major U.S. Code Sections Environmental Research,Development, and Demonstration Act


EPA's statutory mandate for research and development (R&D) grew piecemeal from provisions of many environmental protection laws as enacted or amended over the years. The authority to conduct basic and applied research, to develop and demonstrate new technologies, to monitor the ambient environment--air, water, land, plants, and animals--and to conduct diverse special studies was conferred by Congress in two ways: in the context of at least 12 different environmental protection laws and in the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act (ERDDA). The 12 environmental protection statutes are listed in Table 22.

Table 1. Statutory Environmental Research
and Development Provisions

Clean Air Act, especially sections 103, 104, 153, and 319;
Clean Water Act, especially title I, sections 104-11;
Safe Drinking Water Act, especially sections 1442 and 1444;
Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act), especially Title II and Title IV;
Solid Waste Disposal Act/Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, subtitle H, sections 8001-8007;
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, section 20;
Pesticide Research Act;
Toxic Substances Control Act, especially section 10;
Noise Control Act, section 14;
National Environmental Policy Act, section 204(5);
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (Superfund); Sec. 311 as amended by SARA sec. 209;
Acid Precipitation Act of 1980

The environmental R&D authorities contained in these statutes range from general to the highly specific. Some authorizations are for continuing programs; others are for one-time studies.

In 1976, Congress enacted ERDDA (P.L. 94-475) to require annual authorization of appropriations for most of EPA's R&D activity in a single statute. A major impetus for this requirement was a decision by the House to consolidate jurisdiction for environmental R&D in the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The Act, to some extent, supersedes the individual authorizations in the program statutes. Table 23 below shows the legislative history of ERDDA.

Table 2. Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration
Authorization Act and Amendments
(codified as 42 U.S.C. 4361-4370)

Year Act Public Law Number
1976 Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act P.L. 94-475
1977 ERDDA of 1978 P.L. 95-155
1978 ERDDA of 1979 P.L. 95-477
1979 ERDDA of 1980 P.L. 96-229
1980 ERDDA of 1981 P.L. 96-569

These statutes not only provided annual authorizations, but also contained directives on a number of R&D policy issues. For example, P.L. 94-475 required EPA to prepare a comprehensive 5-year environmental R&D plan, to be submitted annually to Congress no later than 2 weeks after the President submits a budget, and Public Law 95-155 added the requirement that the 5-year plan include projections for no-growth, moderate-growth, and high-growth budgets. To ensure the scientific quality of EPA activities, P.L. 95-155 created, within the Agency, a Science Advisory Board. The Board has responsibilities for reviewing Agency activities, including specifically the preparation of the five-year environmental R&D plan.

Other enactments addressed the issue of research coordination. P.L. 95-155 assigned EPA the lead role in coordinating all Federal environmental R&D, required the Council on Environmental Quality to prepare a study of interagency research coordination, and directed EPA to study and report on internal coordination of research with EPA's regulatory programs. In P.L. 95-477 and P.L. 96-229, Congress explicitly forbade the Administration from transferring energy-related research conducted by EPA to the Department of Energy.

With regard to basic research, Congress has repeatedly directed the Agency to maintain discrete programs of continuing, long-term research within each R&D activity, and to dedicate at least 15% of funds appropriated for each activity to such long-term research. In addition, from time to time, these enactments have specified funding for new research areas not previously proposed by EPA. For example, P.L. 95-477 specified $15 million for demonstrating wastewater reuse.

ERDDA was reauthorized four times. The last action in 1981 authorized appropriations of $364.7 million to EPA for environmental research. (As a cost-cutting measure, the Act included a provision superimposing an across-the-board authorization cap equal to $8 million less than the sum of the specified authorizations for programs under the Act.) In addition, ERDDA of 1981 subdivided the authorizations for many of the programs and limited EPA's ability to transfer funds from one program category to another. For example, the $70,167,000 authorized under the Clean Air Act was divided into three categories: $45,243,000 for health and ecological effects; $4,099,000 for industrial processes; and $20,825,000 for monitoring and technical support. Other breakdowns specified certain projects. For example, of the Safe Drinking Water Act funds, $4 million was to be obligated and expended on groundwater research.

ERDDA's process of annually authorizing EPA's environmental R&D ended in 1981 when Congress did not enact an authorization for FY82. Thus, authorization of EPA's environmental R&D expired September 30, 1981.

The lack of current authorization means that, in the House, bills appropriating funds for those programs are potentially open to objection because they do not comply with the rule that money cannot be appropriated without prior authorization. This problem has not been unique to ERDDA; during the 1980s, authorizations for appropriations for many of EPA's programs expired for a time. Programs continued to be funded, however, through the annual appropriations bills considered under waivers of the rule requiring prior authorization. Meanwhile, amendments to some environmental protection statutes have included more up to date R&D authorizations -- for example, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L.104-182), the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (P.L. 101-549), the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (P.L. 98-616); the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-499), and the Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4).

Although the annual ERDDA authorizations, when enacted, provide the overall statutory authority for environmental R&D, the provisions of the various environmental protection statutes have remained in effect, and as previously noted, amendments to other environmental statutes often include new R&D provisions. Thus, EPA's current and continuing authority for R&D activities derives from the combination of authorization provisions in basic environmental protection statutes, requirements and precedents established by the laws that authorized appropriations for EPA's overall R&D program annually (though the funding authorization has expired), and annual (unauthorized) appropriations for EPA.

Selected References

U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The Role of Science at Epa and Fiscal Year 1993 Budget Authorization for EPA's Office of Research and Development. Hearing, 102d Congress, 2d session. March 19, 1992. Washington, GPO. 1992. 327 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Research, Development, and Technical Services at EPA: A New Beginning. EPA/600/R-94/122. July 1994. Washington. 183 p.

Table 3. Major U.S. Code Sections Environmental Research,
Development, and Demonstration Act(2)
(as amended)
(codified as 42 U.S.C. 4361-4370)

42 U.S.C. Section Title Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Act (as amended)
4361 Plan for research, development, and demonstration  
4361a Budget projections in annual revisions of plans for research, development and demonstration  
4361b Implementation by Administrator of Environmental Protection of "CHESS" investigative report; waiver inclusion of status of implementation requirements in annual revisions of plan for research, development, and demonstration  
4361c Staff management  
4363 Continuing and long-term environmental research and development  
4363a Pollution control technologies demonstration  
4364 Expenditures of funds for research and development related to regulatory program activities  
4365 Science Advisory Board  
4366 Identification and coordination of research, development, and demonstration activities  
4367 Reporting requirements of financial interests of officers and employees of Environmental Protection Agency  
4368 Grants to qualified citizens  
4369 Miscellaneous reports  
4369a Reports on environmental research and development activities  
4370 Reimbursement for use of facilities  


1. Prepared by Martin Lee, Specialist in Environmental Policy, Environmental Protection Section, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division.

2. NOTE: This table shows only the major code sections. For more detail and to determine when a section was added, the reader should consult the official printed version of the U.S. Code.

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