By: Savannah Scarborough, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — On January 16, Shawn LaTourette began his duty as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), replacing Catherine R. McCabe, who retired from public service on January 15. LaTourette will carry out this duty in place of McCabe until the DEP identifies a permanent replacement.
For more than 40 years, McCabe protected the environment, including three years as DEP Commissioner under the Murphy Administration.
LaTourette graduated from Rutgers University, where he also earned his law degree from Rutgers Law School. At Rutgers University, he was salutatorian, the recipient of multiple environmental and governance awards, and published scholarship on environmental law, natural resource damage, and climate issues.
Twenty years ago, LaTourette first embarked on his environmental experience when he partnered with the Erin Brockowich law firm. At that law firm, he organized and defended the state of New Jersey’s communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals. Before entering environmental public service, LaTourette’s expertise was to protect the rights of victims of toxic injuries and several other state and federal environmental laws and policies.
Before joining the Murphy Administration, he recently was a Director of the Environmental Law Department at Gibbons PC. There he specialized in brownfields redevelopment projects and litigated environmental cases in state and federal court.
LaTourette first joined the DEP as a chief legal and regulatory policy advisor to Commissioner McCabe in 2018. He became DEP’s Chief of Staff in 2019 and the Deputy Commissioner responsible for running DEP’S operations in 2020. He completed this in 2020, all while notably leading efforts to craft the reforms necessary to advance the Administration’s climate change and environmental justice priorities.
The acting commissioner of New Jersey’s DEP resides in Highland Park in Middlesex County with his partner and twin daughters. He believes in protecting New Jersey’s natural resources and promoting EJ and climate action. He is also a devoted advocate for the equality of all people. LaTourette was elected to serve as Chair of the LGBTQ Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. He will be the first openly gay Commissioner of Environmental Protection in the nation.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.