New Jersey’s governor-elect taps Obama EPA administrator for state DEP

Catherine McCabe says she looks forward to helping Phil Murphy deal with the state’s environmental issues. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Catherine McCabe says she looks forward to helping Phil Murphy deal with the state’s environmental issues. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy says he’s naming a former acting Environmental Protection Agency director to leader New Jersey’s counterpart department.

Murphy said Thursday at an event in Long Branch that Catherine McCabe is his pick to lead New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. The department oversees state parks and open space programs and is also in charge of ensuring clean drinking water and cleaning up toxic sites.

Murphy said he wants someone “who is tough on polluters, who is understanding of those living in environmentally sensitive areas, and who recognizes that our twin goals of a resilient and responsible future and a strong and fair economy are not mutually exclusive.”

McCabe says it’s time for “New Jersey to lead again” and called on the state to work toward slowing climate change and increasing resiliency.

“It’s over time for us to start taking some action on that and to building up the shore resiliency,” she said. “There have been a lot of efforts. The federal government has been part of that as well as the state, but we haven’t done enough and we haven’t done it fast enough.”

McCabe was tapped by President Obama to serve as the EPA’s acting director in the first months of the Trump administration until her replacement was confirmed by the Senate.

She also served as the agency’s deputy assistant administrator overseeing compliance and as acting regional administrator over New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, says McCabe is an excellent choice.

“New Jersey has been slow on taking advantage of our opportunities to cleanup historic legacy pollution under the previous administration, and there’s a backlog of work to catch up on. I think she’s got the skills and talent and experience to get that done and go beyond. We need to make up for a lot over the years,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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