TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy Dec. 2 announced that Catherine R. McCabe, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, will be retiring, as of Jan. 15, 2021.
According to a release, McCabe was an early appointment to Murphy’s cabinet, selected to lead the high-impact agency after a long career as an environmental lawyer and manager with the federal government, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice.
McCabe last served as deputy regional administrator of EPA’s Region 2 office, in New York City, from 2014 to 2018. In 2017, she served as the acting administrator of the EPA and as acting regional administrator of EPA Region 2.
“Through Catherine’s leadership, our administration has advanced critical initiatives to protect the environment and public health for future generations,” stated Murphy. “From helping to enact New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation environmental justice law to reigniting the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change, Commissioner McCabe has restored the department to its rightful place, as a national leader in environmental protection. I wish her nothing but the best as she enters retirement. There is no greater job than being a grandmother.”
“It has been an honor to lead New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, helping to implement Gov. Murphy’s bold vision in this critical time,” stated McCabe. “Together with partners across the administration, supported by DEP’s exceptional career professionals, we have made New Jersey stronger and fairer through our respect for science and the rule of law, our commitment to equity and environmental justice, and stepping up to confront the most pressing environmental and public health challenges of our time. I am confident that under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, our DEP team will continue to ensure that future generations of New Jerseyans will breathe cleaner air, drink safer water, and enjoy our abundant natural resources.”
Over the last three years, under Commissioner McCabe’s leadership, the Department of Environmental Protection has:
Returned DEP to its national leadership role by taking action to respond to climate change, restoring damaged natural resources, and developing cutting-edge environmental science and regulations that have led the way in protecting drinking water sources from contaminants like PFAS (“forever chemicals”), lead, and harmful algal blooms
Rejoined the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and invested in initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, issued the state’s first comprehensive Scientific Report on Climate Change and the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report, a roadmap for meeting the state’s 2050 goals for clean energy and carbon emission reductions, partnered with the Board of Public Utilities and the Economic Development Authority to jump-start the offshore wind industry, established the DEP Office of Climate and Flood Resilience and the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience, implemented flood resilience projects, and initiated planning and regulatory reforms to ensure that New Jersey becomes more resilient to adverse climate impacts like sea-level rise
Prioritized equity and environmental justice through community listening sessions and targeted enforcement actions, advanced a landmark environmental justice law that serves as a model for the nation, and enlisted all executive-level agencies in a cooperative effort to imbue the principles of environmental justice into government decision-making
Protected New Jersey’s drinking water supplies by taking legal action and providing funding to address lead contamination in drinking water systems
Safeguarded New Jersey’s precious natural resources by investing in the preservation of thousands of acres of parks and natural lands, permanently protecting over 600 miles of pristine streams, expanding access to open space, developing a community-supported plan for restoration of Liberty State Park, and developing a comprehensive strategy for addressing harmful algal blooms in New Jersey’s lakes and reservoirs.
The governor will be announcing a successor in the coming weeks.