NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday announced his nomination of Shawn LaTourette as the next Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. LaTourette has served as Acting Commissioner of the Department since Catherine R. McCabe announced her retirement in January 2021.
“The decisions made by the Department of Environmental Protection are not just important for today, but will have far reaching impacts across generations,” Murphy said. “The work we do now for cleaner air and water, to meaningfully combat climate change, to ensure that every community is treated with dignity and respect and that the principles of environmental justice serve us every day, will far outlive us all. Shawn’s passion for environmental protection, coupled with his extensive knowledge on climate, energy, and infrastructure, will help build an environmental legacy that exemplifies these principles. I am confident that with Shawn’s leadership, we will create a cleaner, more sustainable New Jersey that we are proud to leave for future generations.”
“To serve the people of New Jersey as Commissioner of Environmental Protection is an honor beyond any I could have imagined, and I am grateful to Governor Murphy for his outstanding environmental leadership, and his confidence in mine,” LaTourette said. “New Jersey has no shortage of environmental challenges—from confronting the climate crisis to modernizing our water infrastructure—challenges that also present us with an incredible opportunity to grow our economy, lift our people, and further the promise of environmental justice. NJDEP is charting a new course for the future in our great state, with a stronger, more just environment at its center. I am eager to lead the Department in supporting Governor Murphy in his vision to make New Jersey a national model for its commitment to a more resilient, fairer, greener future for everyone.”
With twenty years of environmental experience, LaTourette began his career partnering with the Erin Brockovich law firm to organize and defend New Jersey communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals. Born and raised in New Jersey, LaTourette graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and earned his law degree summa cum laude from Rutgers Law School, where he was the class salutatorian and the recipient of multiple environmental and governance awards, and published scholarship on environmental law, natural resource damage, and climate issues. Before entering public service, LaTourette specialized in protecting the rights of victims of toxic injuries while also advising infrastructure, transportation, energy, and other industries on compliance with state and federal environmental laws and policies. Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, he was most recently a Director of the Environmental Law Department at Gibbons PC, where he focused on brownfields redevelopment projects and litigated environmental cases in state and federal court.
LaTourette first joined DEP as chief legal and regulatory policy advisor to Commissioner McCabe in 2018, becoming DEP’s Chief of Staff in 2019 and, in 2020, the Deputy Commissioner responsible for running the operations of DEP while notably leading efforts to craft the reforms necessary to advance the Administration’s climate change and environmental justice priorities.
A devoted advocate for equality of all people, LaTourette was elected to serve as Chair of the LGBTQ Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, completing his term in 2020, and will be the first openly gay Commissioner of Environmental Protection in the nation. A Middlesex County native, LaTourette resides in Highland Park with his partner and twin daughters.
“New Jersey has taken a leading role in the legal fight for environmental justice, and that’s because of the close working relationship between our office and Shawn’s team at DEP,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “We share a total commitment to holding polluters accountable and making them pay for the destruction they caused. As we continue this fight for clean air and clean water, I couldn’t ask for a better partner than Shawn.”