Clean Water Action Applauds McCabe as New NJDEP Commissioner

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Statement by Amy Goldsmith, State Director, Clean Water Action regarding the naming of Catherine McCabe as NJDEP Commissioner:

It’s been a long eight years of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) driving in reverse instead of moving forward in fifth gear.

Clean Water Action is looking forward to having NJ’s next governor put Catherine McCabe in the driver’s seat as the new NJDEP Commissioner. She is a person who has made a career of being a science-based environmentalist. Ms. McCabe is someone with credentials to lead as former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Deputy Administrator as well as head of enforcement divisions at EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ). Her many years of experience in environmental enforcement demonstrates her commitment to protecting public health and communities, not polluters and wrongdoers. She will be an excellent partner as the environmental unit of the State’s Attorney General office takes up cases again, wins them and collects penalties.

Clean Water Action has firsthand experience with some of her efforts to address environmental injustices. Ms. McCabe engaged with community activists and Coalition for Healthy Ports (which Clean Water Action chairs) on a regular basis and pressed EPA Headquarters and Region 2 to begin to adopt policies that would reduce diesel emissions at our nation’s ports and advance readily available zero emission solutions. She attempted to use the EPA’s discretionary powers to engage the Port Authority of NY&NJ in this effort. Clean Water Action hopes to see more of this as NJDEP Commissioner.

Clean Water Action is eager to work with her to apply the NJDEP’s existing Environmental Justice Tool to identify pollution hotspots and take action to reduce emissions as well as prevent new sources in communities of color and low income. Once sworn in, Governor Murphy can begin to fulfill his commitment to environmental justice by giving the NJDEP and other agencies discretionary power to act together and through Executive Order and other means. 

Clean Water Action sees this appointment as a critical step towards fulfilling the governor-elect’s pledge to:

  • achieve 100% clean renewable energy by 2050 and grow the corresponding jobs;
  • advance an aggressive environmental justice agenda that ensures community engagement by people most affected, long lasting solutions and resources are brought to communities of color and low income that are disproportionately impacted by pollution, dirty power and port commerce, and;
  • protect the state’s drinking water and our health from lead and other contaminants.

You cannot get New Jersey where you want to go – clean air and water, renewable energy, and healthy communities if you don’t have someone at the steering wheel who knows how to drive in the right route and reach the right destination. Catherine McCabe while new to NJ state government is not new to pressing the pedal for faster and more effective results if given the opportunity. The job of NJDEP commissioner will not be easy. Lots of programs have been neglected or gone the wrong way, staff reductions over 30%, lack of positive leadership. Governor- elect Murphy and Catherine McCabe have both accepted the challenge to turn the NJDEP around.

Clean Water Action welcomes Ms. McCabe to NJ as the new NJDEP Commissioner and look forward to working with her and her team in the future.


Clean Water Action, founded in 1972, is a nearly one million-member nationwide organization with more than 100,000 New Jersey members. We work to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We fight for clean water; environmental justice, and environmentally safe jobs and businesses despite the hostile anti-environment climate in our nation’s capital.


Amy Goldsmith