The Board was founded by Governor Luis A. Ferré in 1970, a year before the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Its first chairman was Cruz Matos, under Governor Ferré, and has also been chaired by other prominent Puerto Ricans, including Pedro Gelabert, under Gov. Carlos Romero Barceló. Both Matos and Gelabert went on to serve as Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, under Governors Rafael Hernández Colón and Pedro Rosselló, respectively. Its current chairwoman, appointed by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, is Laura Vélez Vélez.