The federal government employs environmental researchers in many areas. These workers do not enforce environmental laws or regulations but work to collect, analyze, and maintain data for regulators and the public, as well as invent greener chemicals and materials. There are a variety of organizations and agencies within the government that perform research used to promote and protect the environment.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work to protect the public from environmental impacts. The CDC address health concerns regarding air and water quality as well as exposure to toxic chemicals. The National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) is a program within the CDC that works to eliminate illness, disease, and death from environmental impacts.
Different departments operate independently, but government jobs generally provide excellent benefits. While the pay may not be as high as in the private sector, the benefits may just make up for the disparity in wages.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) carries out research to better understand the oceans and coasts and promote eco-system-based management of natural resources. The organization conducts experiments to research natural processes, develops models to predict environmental outcomes, determines methods to collect and analyze data, prepares assessments for the public, and assists the government with policy management. NOAA is a key player in predicting the dangers of global climate change and evaluating corrective measures needed to slow and reverse the trend.
Even the U.S. Department of Transportation, an agency that may not spring to mind when considering environmental opportunities, operates the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which works in part to encourage nonmotorized means of transportation. The FHWA is currently working on a nonmotorized transportation pilot program in four communities: Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. The program aims to encourage biking and walking by building sidewalks and bicycle paths to and from highly trafficked areas such as transit stations, workplaces, schools, residential areas, and community centers. The information gathered during the program will be used to provide state and local agencies with means to increase nonmotorized transportation.