WHEN REALLY DOING YOUR JOB TAKES COURAGE #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Hugh Kaufman is a member of what can sometimes seem an endangered species—public servants who actually serve the public. He works for the US Environmental Protection Agency—the EPA—and he takes his job seriously. In fact, many, including some EPA officials and co-workers, think he takes his job too seriously. Because Kaufman wants to give the public an even chance in the battle against polluters, he uses much of his weekend and vacation time to travel to communities with hazardous-waste problems. There he shares with citizens his knowledge of environmental laws and regulations. He teaches people how to effectively testify, negotiate, and play political hardball. Kaufman has been at the EPA since its beginning. As the agency’s chief hazardous waste investigator, his Congressional testimony on the EPA’s lack of enforcement zeal paved the way for the creation of the Superfund in 1980. Later, Kaufman leaked information to Congress and the press about how the EPA was using the Superfund to clean up hazardous waste sites but was not charging the polluters the damages that were supposed to support the Superfund. The taxpayers were footing the bill for the polluters, and Kaufman didn’t like it. EPA brass didn’t much like Kaufman’s criticisms. Asked whether the EPA has changed, Kaufman said that the EPA used to be "like the cops on the take from the robbers. Now it’s like there are no cops.” Clearly, though, there’s at least one “cop”: Hugh Kaufman is committed to doing what he was hired to do—protect the air, land, and water we all depend on. Update: Decades later, Hugh Kaufman continues to blow the whistle. In April 2013, when an explosion in a Texas fertilizer company killed 14 people and left dozens injured and homeless. Kaufman, working for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, was livid about both the lack of media coverage and the inaccuracy of what media coverage there was.