The development of environmental policies is an intricate process that can produce good and bad effects filtering beyond a specific country’s borders. USF Provost Renu Khator has received, and accepted, an invitation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) to serve for this committee until 2007.
“I’m really quite delighted, and honored as well, to be able to serve for this committee. This is a quite significant committee when it comes to policy directions for the EPA,” Khator said.
According to their website, NACEPT was established in 1988 “to provide independent advice to the EPA administrator on a broad range of environmental policy, technology and management issues.” NACEPT is comprised of members “who represent diverse interests from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and state, local and tribal governments.”
Florida is a state that is dependent on its natural resources and beauty for a slew of economic reasons. With this in mind, it is easy to see how important it is to have representation of this sort at the federal level.
Khator explained, “It (NACEPT) has a lot of say in terms of what should be the environmental indicators that we use to assess a nation’s environmental health.”
Khator received her doctorate in political science with an emphasis in environmental policy from Purdue University. She has also published several books and other writings on environmental policy issues. In reaction to her ability to serve on NACEPT, Khator said, “Environmental policy is my area, so I will get to see and touch and experience the decision making at the federal level. So it’s kind of exciting.”
Khator has a lot of experience with the issue of water policy. Looking ahead to her service for NACEPT, she said, “I’m definitely interested in water, the EPA’s Water Act and other water related laws. How do they intersect and what are they doing for us in terms of protecting The Everglades or other water bodies in Florida? That is going to be my main focus and if I can get on that issue, it’ll be great.”
On a local scale, Khator said the most important issue also “is definitely water. It’s not that we don’t have enough water. It is the storing and distribution of water. Protecting the water that we have is going to be the critical issue.”
The effect of globalization on the environment is another specialty of Khator’s. She mentioned it as a second important issue that she hopes to address in her time as a member of NACEPT.
“As the world is shrinking, and as businesses are looking to trade freely across borders, I think the significant issue is going to be for us to realize that we are all living in one world. Actions that we may take, or unintended consequences in other parts of the world, do eventually impact us,” Khator explained. “We want to develop in a way so that we are leaving a healthier environment for the next generation.
“Many times for poorer countries it becomes a race to the bottom,” Khator said. “In order to lure businesses they simply are willing to forget their environmental laws. The people who are around this have very little say end up suffering and there are tons and tons of examples.”
The most important issue overall is that “it is one world,” said Khator. “Water and air do not know any boundaries. So we cannot simply say that just because it is not in front of my eyes that it is ok. Eventually, it comes home.”
As a growing research university, USF will hopefully be able to benefit from Khator’s involvement with NACEPT.
“You’re the first one to know the new and hot research areas, and you can basically link the priorities at the federal level to the research programs that are here on campus,” Khator mentioned. “Information is power. You always want to be on the same page as the federal government in terms of the critical areas of research.”
Khator is slated to travel to her first NACEPT meeting this April. After her orientation with NACEPT, Khator said, “If there is anything I learn there, I’m hoping that I can bring it back to the university.”