He drafted the nation's Superfund program, designed to identify and clean up our most hazardous waste sites, and he created the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the first designation of its kind to protect environmentally sensitive tracts of land.
She shepherded through a constitutional amendment preserving open space and farm land. Later, bitter disagreements with the George W. Bush Administration prompted her to resign as administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Now these two former governors of New Jersey, Democrat Jim Florio and Republican Christine Todd Whitman, have had enough with the current occupant of the Governor's Office, and with the looming threat of panic many feel with the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
They've teamed up with the League of Conservation Voters' Education Fund to launch a campaign they hope will prevent the chipping away of legal protections so hard won over the past few decades - laws affecting the air we breathe and the water we drink.
NJSpotlight reported the launch of the effort the same day scientists announced the earth has reached its highest temperatures on record, demolishing a record set only a year before.
It's comforting to know these two are on the job, especially when our new president has dismissed climate change as a Chinese hoax, and touts as his EPA head a man who scoffs at the agency's mission.
Whitman has had a rocky relationship with environmentalists over the years, with her "Open for Business" initiative drawing fire for sacrificing important regulations in favor of courting commerce and industry.
In 1996, a coalition of environmental and public-policy groups awarded her a dismal C- grade, citing specifically her deep cuts to the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
But she has spoken out forcefully and unequivocally in the past few years, most recently in an op-ed originally published in The Washington Post urging Trump to heed the joints chiefs of staff and other military leaders who view climate change as a national security issue.
Florio, the man Whitman defeated by a margin of 1 percent in 1993, chairs the environmental group of his law firm. An amateur boxer as a young man, he has fought relentlessly for clean energy and safe drinking water.
Now these two former adversaries are facing a tougher battle together: overcoming an administration in the State House that for two terms has been indifferent - if not openly hostile - to the needs of the environment, and a president who seems willing to put America's environmental future in jeopardy.
The League of Conservation Voters has budgeted $750,000 for its "Green in '17" campaign, with a goal of raising awareness of issues affecting climate change, public transportation, drinking water, land preservation and urban industrialization.
It's an ambitious goal, but a do-able one. We look forward to hearing more.