On America's first official "Earth Day" — April 22, 1970, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was born. New Jersey became the third state in the country to consolidate its past programs into a unified major agency to administer aggressive environmental protection and conservation efforts. Former Governor William T. Cahill appointed Richard J. Sullivan as the first commissioner.
Since that day, NJDEP began a role to manage natural resources and solve pollution problems. In what started with about 1,400 employees in five divisions, NJDEP now has a staff of approximately 2,900 and is a leader in the country for its pollution prevention efforts and innovative environmental management strategies.