Lautenberg's office announced Monday the 89-year-old senator died of viral pneumonia. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune lauded the senator as a strong supporter of the environment.
"The Sierra Club's 2.1 million members and supporters mourn the loss of one of the U.S. Senate's strongest, most dedicated, and most principled champions for healthy communities, clean air, clean water and climate action," he said in a statement.
Lautenberg used his position at the head of a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on environmental health to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act. The act called on the Environmental Protection Agency to project public health from chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyl products, banned in 1979.
Praise for Lautenberg extended beyond the environmental community, however. President of the American Chemistry Council Cal Dooley praised the senator for working up to last month on chemical management legislation.
"His decades of leadership on behalf of his state and the nation inspired respect and admiration from all those who worked with him," he said Monday.
Lautenberg was the oldest member of the U.S. Senate.