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Featured Alumnus: Steve Mital

Serving as the UO’s Director of Sustainability and on the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Advisory Council didn’t quite keep Steve Mital (who graduated from the Environmental Studies Master’s Program and founded the Environmental Leadership Program in 2001) busy enough.

Steve says that when he heard last year that a then-current Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) commissioner was not seeking re-election, his long-standing interest in local politics and his admiration for “the great work EWEB does in the community” led him to “give [running for public office] a try.” He adds, “Carpe diem.”

“EWEB runs a $300 million dollar annual operating budget and employs 500 people.   Commissioners review and approve electricity and water rates, set policies that shape the utility, and approve all major contracts.  We also review the general manager’s performance.” Steve explains.

While Steve admits that his new role’s “learning curve is steep,” one of his two major goals is informed by his long-term commitment to environmental sustainability: planning and preparing for climate change. Steve is heartened by the fact that “EWEB commissioners recently supported state-wide carbon tax legislation.”

In addition to thinking about environmental sustainability, Steve is also concerned about economic sustainability: his second major focus is to “develop policies and programs to better insulate low-income rate-payers from rate increases.”

When asked how his foray into local politics is going so far, Steve exclaims “Great!” He adds that he really enjoys working with the other commissioners, and “learning about energy contracts, demand management, lobbying in Salem, bond ratings, and FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] relicensing.”

Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.