WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cancelled two grant solicitations for proposals to research new sources for green chemistry. The grants, which were to be part of the agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, would have provided $20 million in funding over four years for research to develop environmentally friendly chemicals and processes to replace existing hazardous materials. The grants were to develop two Centers for Material Life Cycle Safety and two Centers for Sustainable Molecular Design.

In an announcement about the cancellations, the agency said that the solicitations are “being reviewed and will be reissued when that review is complete.”

The announcement stunned researchers, who were within weeks of submitting proposals for the funding. In an article published in Environmental Health News, Evan Beach, a green chemist at Yale University, was quoted as saying that the funding was to be "one of the most significant sources of dedicated support for green chemistry, so it is a blow to the community that the call for applications was cancelled without explanation.” Beach added, “Everybody was in the home stretch on writing. The preparations took several months.”

The EPA  gave no reason for the cancellation. In an e-mail to Environmental Health News, Kelly Widener, Assistant Director for Research and Communications at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research, said, “Given the new and emerging research areas...EPA determined that it was necessary to further explore these research areas and also consider changes to its usual review process.” Widener said the EPA anticipates re-issuing its requests for proposals in June or July.