By Andrew Cohen
President Barack Obama recently selected Jared Blumenfeld ’92 to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) region that covers California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. As EPA Region 9 administrator, he will oversee about 900 employees while working to regulate air and water pollution, hazardous waste, and other environmental issues.
Blumenfeld spent the past eight years as director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and also managed the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. During that time, he supported a sweeping range of environmental initiatives—including San Francisco’s decision to ban plastic grocery bags, expand solar programs, plant 25,000 trees since 2004, and host the 2005 World Environment Day conference.
Before serving in city government, Blumenfeld helped the International Fund for Animal Welfare wage a campaign to protect 4 million acres of land in part by bringing lawsuits against Airbus and Mitsubishi. The latter was prevented from building a salt factory in a lagoon area of Baja that serves as winter calving grounds for the gray whale.
In pushing to make the urban environmental agenda more mainstream, Blumenfeld helped replace the drinking water used to irrigate Golden Gate Park with recycled water. During his tenure, San Francisco’s recycling rate has spiked from 46 percent when he took the job to more than 70 percent today. The city hopes to increase that to 75 percent by the end of 2010, and to have zero waste by 2020.
Blumenfeld’s efforts also helped San Francisco amass the largest fleet of public transit system buses running on biodiesel in the United States, as well as the nation’s the largest fleet of electric vehicles.