California environmental secretary Jared Blumenthal leaving Newsom administration

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SACRAMENTO — Jared Blumenfeld, California’s top environmental regulator and a key climate adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom, will leave the administration at the end of the month, Newsom announced Friday.

Newsom, a Democrat, appointed Blumenfeld as secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency on his first day in office in 2019. Blumenfeld will become the president of the Waverley Street Foundation, a $3 billion climate initiative funded by Laurene Powell Jobs.

As head of the state’s environmental agency, he was responsible for departments that regulate air pollution, water use, recycling, toxic substances, pesticides, environmental health hazards like extreme heat.

Yana Garcia, special assistant attorney general focused on environmental issues in the California Department of Justice, will take over as head of the California EPA next month. Blumenfeld said the agency now rivals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its staff and budget.

Blumenfeld was one of the most public-facing members of Newsom’s administration, representing the state at international conferences and public hearings. He was personally named in a lawsuit by the Trump administration challenging California’s ability to link its emissions trading program with a similar one in Canada.

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Jared Blumenfeld.

Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images


In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, Blumenfeld said he made a checklist when he took the job of things he wanted to accomplish, including less headline-grabbing items like reforming the state’s broken Department of Toxic Substances Control and cleaning up contaminated drinking water.

The first year of Blumenfeld’s tenure was largely spent defending California’s climate policies against threats from the Trump administration, including an effort to revoke California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions rules. The state has since won that power back under the Biden administration.

He also oversaw the water board as it responded to California’s latest drought and the air board as it put together a road map to reach carbon neutrality by 2045.

Looking to the future, he said California needs to make it easier and faster to launch clean energy projects.

“We have to speed up the process of getting the infrastructure in the ground to make sure that we can translate our vision into reality and at the moment there’s way too much red tape,” he said.

Blumenfeld previously worked as regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. After he left, he launched his own firm advising clean tech clients, according to his state bio.

The job pays $232,000.



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