April 14, 2021

Contact: Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795

Public Remarks by Shawn LaTourette on His Nomination as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

(21-PS001) TRENTON – Thank you, Governor Murphy for that kind introduction, for your leadership, and for your confidence.

I am humbled by this nomination and the great responsibility of serving the people of New Jersey as Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

Working alongside your team, Governor, and the incredible people of the Department of Environmental Protection these last three years, we have been making great strides in building a stronger, fairer, greener New Jersey.

It has unquestionably been the highlight of my twenty years in the environmental field.

To succeed the incomparable Catherine McCabe and serve as your next DEP Commissioner is an honor beyond any I could have imagined.

I love this State. And I want to give back because it has given me everything:

A fine public-school education—four times over. From grade and high school in Woodbridge, to Middlesex County College, to my beloved Rutgers, both north (for undergrad) and south (for law school).

A place where my love of the outdoors could take root—from the mountainous trails of High Point, to the urban greenscapes of the Great Falls in Paterson and Branch Brook Park in Newark, to the diverse ecosystems of our Pinelands, to the beautiful shores of Cape May Point.

A place where small businesses like the environmental law firm of Lieberman & Blecher could thrive, leaving me mentors who would spark my passion for protecting victims of toxic exposure and encourage me, a kid who came from nothing, to tempt fate and go get a law degree of my own.

A place where I would be free to marry the man I love—even before it was the law of these United States.

A place where I could raise two incredible, brave, and smart young women who know that, in New Jersey, they can be anything. I am so proud of you, Liv and Jules.

A place where I could use all of these gifts to support a Governor I believe in, help our great state take bold action to reduce the risks of climate change, to further the promise of environmental justice, to ensure clean water for all, and to build a green economy that lifts all of our people.

I promise to treat the office I am nominated for with the reverence it deserves. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection is not just the head of a government agency and advisor to the Governor, important roles to be sure. In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection has a sacred duty to hold every natural resource of the state in trust for the people.

Our air, our land, water, and wildlife do not belong to the Governor or me, or the dedicated folks of the DEP who work so hard to protect them. These natural resources belong to the people. All of the people. You have my word that I will take very good care of them for you.

I will always be honest, even when it’s hard—especially when it’s hard. Our state has many environmental challenges.

New Jersey is ground zero for some of the worst impacts of climate change. Our aging water infrastructure poses both public health and economic risks. And, many low-income and minority communities continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the pollution that we all, together, create.

But as I stand here today, in view of the progress of the last three years, I am filled with hope. Because New Jerseyans are strong. We lead. And our great state is leading the way for our nation on so many important environmental issues.

We are leading the way in reducing and responding to climate change.

With Governor Murphy’s vision, we have charted a course to reduce the emissions of climate pollutants and help our communities become stronger and more resilient to the impacts to climate change.

I am eager to build upon this progress and could have no better partner in the work than Jane Cohen, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, whose thoughtful approach to complex policy is matched only by her kindness and resolve.

Thank you, Jane—you have a ready and able team at DEP and we are excited to support you in the work ahead.

New Jersey is leading the way in developing renewable energy resources that will help us solve climate change while creating a new home-grown industry that will power our future and lift up our people.

I am confident, for example, that we can maximize the opportunity offshore wind presents while also protecting our invaluable coastal and aquatic resources and, by extension, the fishing communities and businesses that these resources support.

As we work to ensure responsible offshore wind and project development throughout the state, I am grateful to have the leadership of my incredible Chief of Staff, Jane Rosenblatt, whose ability to bring people together, find solutions and drive progress is unmatched. This Administration, this State, is lucky to have you, Jane.

New Jersey is also leading the way in building the environmental policies of the future. From our New Jersey PACT (or Protecting Against Climate Threats) reforms, to the new program we are building to better protect residents from the risk of lead in drinking water, to the next generation of waste management and recycling programs, New Jersey is leading.

But we could not bring any of these pro-growth progressive policies to life without the imagination and tenacity of legal minds like Sean Moriarty, my chief counsel, and the often-unsung hero of our environmental progress. Thank you, brother.

And there is no question that New Jersey, a state known for its enduring commitment to equity and justice, is leading our country toward a place of greater environmental justice.

DEP is now working to build the program that will implement the most empowering environmental justice law in the country signed by Governor Murphy last September.

Meanwhile, DEP is working with all of our sister agencies to sow the principles of environmental justice into the work of every Executive Branch Department, an effort led by my partner in all things positive, Olivia Glenn, DEP’s first-ever Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice & Equity.

I could not ask for a better team, the few people I mentioned only scratches the surface of the more than 3,000 environmental professionals at DEP who have made the protection of our natural resources the cause of their lives. We are in your debt, and it is my honor to lead with you.

Together, we are charting a new course for the future, with a stronger, more just environment at its center.

It is a future that demands we protect and preserve our natural resources as we promote growth.

It is a future where we refuse to make false choices between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

It is a future of partnership; where there is no one industrial villain who seeks to pollute and plunder, no single conservationist with a monopoly on virtue.

Because, just like the water we drink and air we breath, we are all interconnected.

Because the environmental challenges of one community, are a challenge to our entire New Jersey community.

And we only do this together.

In closing, I again thank our Governor for his confidence. And knowing that I could never name them all, to every mentor, professor, colleague, and advocate, I would not be here today were it not for the lessons we have learned together and that I carry with me every day.

And lastly, but most certainly not least, to Michael Marielli, my partner—my love. I only hope that I can take as good care of our environment as you do our family. I love you.

Thank you. Now, let’s get to work.