The Boston boutique environmental law firm of Mackie Shea Durning, PC will be recognized for the 16th year as one of the top environmental firms in Massachusetts in the 2022 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.  Chambers is the gold standard for legal rankings.  In addition to being ranked by Chambers for environmental law, the firm is noted for its litigation prowess and representations before state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as for its effective handling of licensing disputes.  Chambers recognized Mackie Shea Durning PC for its experience in solid waste management, renewable energy plants, and residential and commercial developments.  In one highlight, the firm assisted in obtaining a final Certificate under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) for Thorndike Development’s Copperworks Condominiums on the Paul Revere Copper Foundry brownfields site in Canton, MA.

In addition to the firm as a whole, all three shareholders were individually ranked among the leading practitioners of environmental law in the state.

John F. Shea has a Band 2 ranking and specializes in issues relating to wetlands, water and hazardous waste laws.  “He is a very well-known and very strong attorney.”

Thomas A. Mackie has a Band 2 ranking and is particularly well-thought of for his expertise in solid waste law.  “Thomas is always measured in his response and direction, a great practitioner, very practical and gets great results.”

Peter F. Durning has a Band 3 ranking and represents clients in environmental disputes concerning wetlands and water supply permitting.  “He is terrific.  A solid and strong attorney.”

Chambers rankings are based on client interviews and opinions of colleagues and competitors assessing legal ability, professional conduct, client service, diligence, commitment, and business sense.


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!



Firm Activities

John Shea attended the VIP Grand Opening Celebration of the Artis Senior Living of Lexington Memory Care Community.  Artis purchased the property from an old Yankee farmer who believed he could do absolutely anything to or on his land, irrespective of zoning and environmental laws.  Consequently, from 1982 to 2011, he filled acres of wetlands, riverfront area and buffer zone, and contaminated the groundwater.  John led the Artis team of a wetland expert, a Licensed Site Professional, and engineers to restore and remediate the property under an Administrative Consent Order with MassDEP.  The facility and grounds are beautiful.  Artis provides state-of-the-art care for residents with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. Individual living quarters are grouped into four houses with distinct homelike entries, dining rooms and open kitchen, centered on a Neighborhood Square featuring amenities to enable social engagement and emotional connection.

Tom Mackie and John Shea have updated their chapters on Solid Waste Law and Hazardous Waste Cleanup Law to the MCLE treatise Massachusetts Environmental law.

In December, Tom manned the Keep Massachusetts Beautiful booth at the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference along with fellow Board Members Steve Changaris and Neil Rhein.

In January, for the third year running, Tom moderated EBC’s Evening with then EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. 

At MassRecycle’s March R3 Summit, Tom moderated a panel of experts on Contracting from Both Sides of the Equation, which provided invaluable insight into contracting for recyclables processing by municipalities and private haulers in the wake of China’s National Sword ban on recyclable imports.

Peter Durning moderated a panel on wood waste at the EBC’s C&D Summit in January.

At SWANA’s February Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Summit, Tom presented on developments on the EPR front in the context of the Massachusetts solid waste market.

Associate Job Posting

Mackie Shea Durning, PC seeks an associate with significant experience in environmental litigation and a knowledge of hazardous waste, wetlands, MEPA and solid waste law, and zoning law.

We expect the attorney will work with a high degree of independence under the mentorship of the partners. There will be a significant amount of client contact, frequent direct dealings with opposing counsel and government officials, as well as public hearing attendance (often at night). We will rely on the attorney to handle challenging issues.

In sum, we seek someone who can make tough judgments and has the skills to handle components of litigation or business transactions with minimal guidance and supervision. People who are competitive, self-reliant, and highly motivated are likely to be successful with us.

            General Qualifications

  • 6 years post-law school preferred (3 years minimum)
  • top quarter of law school class
  • excellent writing skills

            Environmental Experience

  • private 21E cost recovery and other disputes
  • government enforcement
  • administrative law and appeals
  • zoning and environmental permitting and appeals

            Litigation Experience

  • conducted numerous depositions
  • prepared memoranda of law and argued dispositive motions
  • conducted all aspects of discovery independently
  • participated in trials and adjudicatory proceedings

Submit letter of interest and resume to:


Mackie Shea Durning, PC is committed to creating a diverse work environment. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to religion, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, disability, or military or veteran status.

Peter Durning named Managing Shareholder

Mackie Shea, PC is pleased to announce that Peter F. Durning is the new Managing Shareholder of the firm.

In addition to serving in the principal management role for the firm, Peter continues to handle a wide variety of environmental matters including local, state, and federal permit proceedings and appeals. Peter is also involved in water management issues, wetlands hearings and adjudicatory appeals, environmental remediation cost recovery actions, solid waste site assignment appeals, zoning disputes, citizen suits regarding stormwater discharges, and U.S. EPA and MassDEP enforcement actions, and provides guidance on environmental issues in business and real estate transactions.

A 2003 graduate of Boston College Law School, Peter joined Mackie Shea in May 2011 and became a Shareholder in September 2015.

Mackie Shea, PC is a leading boutique environmental, land use, and litigation law firm based in Boston. Along with Shareholders, Thomas A. Mackie and John F. Shea, Peter leads the firm’s management team.

Firm Activities – Fall 2018

John Shea  again moderated the annual EBC Program Series with MassDEP Leadership: Commissioner Marty Suuberg and the Southeast Region Leadership Team. At the October 2, 2018 program, John introduced and questioned pinch-hitting Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran, Regional Director Millie Garcia-Serrano, and Deputy Regional Directors David Johnston, Gerard Martin, Maria Pinaud and Jennifer Viverios. Gary announced that MassDEP is working with the UMasss Donahue Institute on short- and long-term succession planning since the average age of the 660 agency personnel is 55, with 54% eligible for retirement; the challenges being how to preserve institutional knowledge and hire bright, young environmental professionals.

Dave Johnston highlighted the critical need to repair and replace failing water distribution and wastewater infrastructure. He punctuated his warning by displaying a section of a corroded and narrowing water line that is causing dirty drinking water and pipe failures in many municipalities.

Tom Mackie and Gretchen Carey of Republic Services co-chaired the EBC Solid Waste Committee’s July 20 Innovative Alternative Technologies to Manage Municipal Solid Waste program.  The international panel from Denmark, Great Britain, Australia and the Netherlands presented technologies from around the world, ranging from enzymatic separation to advanced gasification.

On September 18th, Tom chaired the third annual EBC Solid Waste Committee meeting with the MassDEP Regional Solid Waste Section Chiefs. Greg Cooper, the MassDEP Solid Waste Division Director, provided an overview.  Mark Dakers (SERO), Mark Fairbrother (NERO), Dan Hall (WRO) and Jim McQuade (CERO) provided updates on their regional priorities, permits issued and changes in their departments to a packed room of solid waste industry officials and consultants.


Peter Durning attended several industry events this fall, including the Boston Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in September, the LSPA’s 25th Anniversary event at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, as well as the Massachusetts Water Works Association’s Annual Meeting in Devens, MA.

Peter also had the opportunity to attend the VIP-Preview Night for the Grand Opening of the MGM Springfield casino.  Peter and Tom represented MGM in a zoning litigation matter  in the Land Court.

Peter Durning and John Shea participated in the EBC Program Series with MassDEP Leadership: Commissioner Suuberg and the Central Region Leadership team on September 25th.  The most exciting news was the Brownfield redevelopment in Kelley Square and the Canal District for the proposed Polar Park, the future home of the WOOSOX.  In addition to the ballpark, there will be hotels, shops, restaurants, and market rate housing.


Tom Mackie to Receive Award from EBC

BTS BKN 2015

The Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc. (EBC) recently announced that Tom Mackie will receive the Stephen G. Lewis Environmental-Energy Merit Award for Service to the Environmental Industry.  Tom is the outgoing chair of the EBC Board of Directors and the Managing Shareholder at Mackie Shea, P.C.  The Stephen G. Lewis Award is given in recognition of meritorious service, leadership and dedication to improving the quality of the environment and to the development of the environmental-energy industry in New England.  The award will be presented at the 25th Annual EBEE Awards on June 27, 2018.

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BBA and EBC welcome the new EPA Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn

Tom Mackie and Peter Durning were honored to be a part of the Boston Bar Association and Environmental Business Council of New England’s co-sponsored program on February 15, 2018 welcoming the new EPA Regional Administrator, Alexandra Dunn.

Tom, Chair of the EBC, gave opening remarks welcoming over 200 guests from the legal and environmental consulting community to the event.

Peter, the Co-Chair of the BBA’s Energy and Environmental Law Section, provided closing remarks and a sincere thank you to Regional Administrator Dunn, following a 40-minute presentation and a robust question and answer period.

In her speech, Alex Dunn stressed the need to address core water quality concerns by focusing on nutrients in stormwater, stormwater runoff, and water infrastructure projects.  She also outlined other initiatives for her tenure as Regional Administrator, including emerging contaminants, environmental justice, interstate air shed issues, and finally closing out and potentially redeveloping the remaining Superfund sites in New England.

Firm Activities – Fall 2017

     John Shea moderated the October 3, 2017 EBC Program Series with MassDEP Leadership: Commissioner Martin Suuberg and the Southeast Region Leadership.  The Commissioner was frank and affable in his keynote remarks, sharing MassDEP’s noteworthy achievements, top priorities, and the challenges from recent retirements and federal budget cuts.  Using “A Day in the Life” motif, the SERO leadership showcased the breadth, depth and volume of its work in numerous programs, amazing success stories, and ambitious projects on the horizon.  A large audience of environmental professionals enjoyed insightful and sometimes humorous presentations from Regional Director (RD) Millie Garcia-Serrano, Deputy RD of Water Resources Dave Johnston, Deputy RD of Waste Site Cleanup Gerard Martin, Deputy RD of Air and Waste Maria Pinaud, and Deputy RD of Administration Jennifer Viveiros.

     Tom Mackie moderated the September 19, 2017 EBC Solid Waste Management Program: Update from the MassDEP Regional Solid Waste Section Chiefs.  A standing room only crowd heard about facility permitting, enforcement, changes and developments and top priorities from Greg Cooper, Division Director at the MassDEP Bureau of Air and Waste, and from the four regional Section Chiefs: Mark Fairbrother (NERO), James McQuade (CERO), Mark Dakers (SERO), and Daniel Hall (WERO).  There was a lively Q&A session.

     As a member of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA) Legislative Committee, John reviewed comments in opposition to a Rivers Alliance Petition to condition water withdrawal registrations (which MassDEP denied), to EPA on proposed aluminum limits in water treatment plant discharges in NPDES General Permits, and on proposed legislation for lead in school drinking water.  He attended the Summer Expo at Wachusett Mountain.

     Peter Durning, as co-chair of the Boston Bar Association Energy and Environmental Section, is overseeing the development of robust and interesting education programs for 2017-2018, including a presentation by former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

     Tom  undertook a family pilgrimage to ancestral lands in Ireland and Scotland.  Peter  enjoyed a family vacation in Seattle and on the shores of the frigid Pacific.

     Tom, Peter, and Gail attended the Boston Bar Association Annual Meeting in October.

Alum Carson M. Shea, Esq. is a litigation associate at Cornell & Gollub, was sworn into the RI Bar, and co-authored an article in the Professional Liability Defense Quarterly (v. 9, #3).

The law firm enjoyed a summer celebration at Pier 6 in Charlestown arranged by Denise Green.