Winter 2020 Firm Activities and Successes

John Shea participated in the October 24, 2019 Boston Harbor Regional Coastal Resiliency Conference, “Keeping the Lights On and the Water Out for 100 Years or More” on the use of layered defenses for protection from flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge.  He also participated in the October 25, 2019 New England Water Works Association (“NEWWA”) program “Success in the Face of Challenges.”  He spoke at the December 10, 2019 NEWWA program “PFAS in Drinking Water: Tools for Water Utilities to Address an Emerging Issue” on “What If PFAS Happens to Us?  Legal Aspects and Funding Sources.”

Tom Mackie moderated the panel of industry leaders discussing challenges posed by the lack of regional solid waste disposal capacity at the EBC’s March Talking Trash program, including Toni King of Casella, John Farese of Wheelabrator, Jim Belden of Covanta, Scott Lemay of United Material Management and Steve Poggi of Waste Management.

As a member of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (“MWWA”) Legislative Committee, John assisted in preparing the July 18, 2019 Comments on MassDEP’s Proposed Changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan and a Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level (“MCL”) for PFAS compounds in drinking water.  We drew upon the expertise of Green Toxicology, LLC and Sanborn Head & Associates.

John participated in the November 20, 2019 BU Pardee Center seminar, “The Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases & Climate Change” as part of the Costs of War project.  The DOD has the world’s largest carbon footprint due primarily to fuel use in the counter-terrorism wars.  DOD views climate change and related resource scarcity (water, food, oil and refugee migrations) as leading to more conflicts and war, and believes the best response to climate change is to be ready for the inevitable conflicts. 

A key component of the firm’s winning argument in an important case on the statutory interpretation of the Water Management Act was the legislative history of the WMA.  Working with the reference librarian in the State House Archives, Gail Hire reviewed the voluminous collection of former state Senator Carol Amick.  Sen. Amick was at the epicenter of the debate on the construction of the WMA and her papers provided a good roadmap to understand the evolution of the legislature’s thinking and the impetus behind the creation of different classes of uses through registrations and permits.

Peter was the organizing chair for an EBC program on PFAS in Drinking Water on November 5, 2019.  Peter also moderated the discussion among the presenters, Laura Green of Green Toxicology, LLC, Rob Little of Woodard & Curran, Brandon Kernen of NH DES, and Kathy Baskin, the MassDEP Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Water Resources.

Tom and Gail have been very active in supporting a national client’s tax equity investment and a lender’s associated financing of a large portfolio of solar projects throughout the Commonwealth.  From local building permits to Statements of Qualifications under the DOER’s SMART program they have performed legal due diligence on literally hundreds of permits and approvals for these important large scale renewable energy projects. 

John lectured on “Understanding Federal and Massachusetts Wetlands Law: Permitting and Appellate Processes” on December 5, 2019 for Half Moon Education, Inc. 

Peter Durning moderated the panel discussion at EBC’s Meeting with MassDEP Regional Solid Waste Section Chiefs, including Greg Cooper, the MassDEP Director of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Division of the Bureau of Air & Waste, and the four regional Solid Waste Section Chiefs, Mark Fairbrother (NERO), Mark Dakers (SERO), Jim McQuade (CERO) and Dan Hall (WERO).

John attended the “Sustainable Space, Sustainable Earth” Symposium sponsored by the Smithsonian and Framingham State University in conjunction with the “Moon Landing in Context Project” on December 6, 2019.  He was part of a colloquy on a Legal System for Near Earth and Lunar Commercial Users. 


Peter also moderated a panel on waste management strategies in the construction industry during the EBC Solid Waste Committee’s C&D Summit on January 30, 2020, and gave a presentation on emerging litigation issues related to PFAS contamination and regulations for the Mass Water Works Association on February 11, 2020.

John Shea again moderated the annual Environmental Business Council Series with MassDEP Leadership: Commissioner Marty Suuberg and the Southeast Regional Office Leadership Team.  At the October 2, 2019 program, John introduced and questioned Commissioner Suuberg, Regional Director Millie Garcia-Serrano, and Deputy Regional Directors David Johnston, Gerard Martin, Seth Pickering and Jennifer Viveiros, and Courtney Rocha, the new SERO Climate Coordinator.  The Commissioner explained staffing reassignments, recalls to active duty for critical programs (Ch. 91), and new hires in response to the “graying” of MassDEP; proposed changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan to set cleanup standards and to the Drinking Water regulations to set Maximum Contaminant Levels for six PFAS compounds; and the draft Solid Waste Master Plan for 2020-30 to address the loss of in-state disposal capacity and aspirations to increase recycling and reuse. 

Millie used recent examples to illustrate how SERO is moving forward through transformational leadership; is delivering on mission and core program goals in permitting, compliance and enforcement; and is promoting the energy-environment nexus for battery storage facilities and for offshore wind support.  Gerard explained how MassDEP is addressing PFAS through a collaboration of the Waste Site Cleanup and Drinking Water Programs, and highlighted PFAS work at Joint Base Cape Cod, Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy, the Barnstable, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Plymouth Airports, and five municipal water supplies.  Seth encouraged the proper use of local zoning to bolster MassDEP’s enforcement cases on noise, odor and visible emissions from industrial and solid waste facilities, and wind turbines.  Jennifer explained how SERO is building and retaining a sustainable work-force, and upgrading vehicles and field equipment.  She proudly bragged about the commitment of SERO staff for voluntary emergency management assistance deployments to hurricane devastated locations.  Courtney explained the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program’s support of municipal planning and construction in response to increasing threats from climate change.  Dave Johnson wowed us with his work on the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Station, and the indefinite on-site management for 47 years of spent nuclear fuel.  DJ stole the show by circulating through the audience a nuclear fuel pellet, with a belated warning not to hold it too long!