Environmental & Land Use


Achieving Net Zero Buildings in Massachusetts

by David B. Lyons, Mina S. Makarious

To respond effectively to climate change, local, state, and federal governments should adopt complementary policies, but that’s much easier said than done.  A case in point is the drive to reduce emissions from the building sector, which accounts for nearly 30% of U.S. emissions despite substantial improvements in energy… READ MORE

Appeals Court Divests Conservation Commissions’ Wetlands Jurisdiction After Missed Deadline

by Olympia "Libby" Bowker, George A. Hall, Jr.

On January 26, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a decision in Boston Clear Water Company, LLC v. Town of Lynnfield, finding a Conservation Commission lost jurisdiction over a project before its’ review even began. The case reaffirmed the Appeals Court’s 2007 holding in Oyster Creek Preservation… READ MORE

Biden-Harris Administration Proposes NEPA Regulatory Revisions

by Olympia "Libby" Bowker, Mina S. Makarious

After nearly 50 years with little change, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) regulations are facing their second substantive revisions in less than 12 months.[1] In September 2020, the Trump Administration oversaw a series of regulatory revisions that greatly altered the scope and depth of the review processes under… READ MORE

Federal PFAS Cleanup Regulation on the Horizon

by Olympia "Libby" Bowker, David B. Lyons

Federal regulators recently picked up the pace in controlling the class of persistent environmental toxins known as PFAS, as the nation’s eyes increasingly focus on this problem. Local governments, airports, and potentially responsible parties should pay particularly close attention to these developments. On October 25, the EPA announced… READ MORE

Supreme Court Creates New “Functional Equivalent” Test for Groundwater Discharges

by David B. Lyons

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay. Wading into a dispute about the Clean Water Act’s applicability to groundwater discharges, the Supreme Court handed environmentalists a somewhat surprising victory in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  However, the lower courts, EPA, and the regulated community will have many… READ MORE

How COVID-19 is Affecting Environmental Permitting

by Jessica A. Wall

As government agencies at every level continue to implement programs to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, many environmental practitioners are struggling to make sense of what this means for their environmental permitting timelines. Below, we have compiled an overview of the main federal, state, and local… READ MORE

Massachusetts and Federal Updates on PFAS Regulation

by Jessica A. Wall

Image by Baudolino from Pixabay On February 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would begin a regulatory determination process aimed at deciding “whether or not to begin the process to propose and promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation” for… READ MORE

NEGPA v. DEP: The SJC Upholds the Commonwealth’s Climate Change Mitigation Program

by David B. Lyons

This article was first published in the Winter 2019 edition of the Boston Bar Journal. In a unanimous decision last September, the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) upheld the Commonwealth’s latest climate change regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric generators, rejecting those generators’ arguments that the regulations violate… READ MORE

Interstate Water Dispute Nears Decision by Supreme Court

by Austin P. Anderson

As our changing climate threatens to exacerbate drought conditions in parts of the country, disputes between states over rights to water are likely to become far more common, and to have far higher stakes.  Early this year, the Court heard arguments in two separate water apportionment cases—one involving a dispute… READ MORE

Agencies Gearing Up to Address Risks Posed by PFAS Contamination

by David B. Lyons

image credit: Ineke Huizing PFAS—a class of chemical substances commonly used in a wide range of products—are drawing increased scrutiny from regulators.  Businesses and municipalities should closely follow these developments, as they create both new risks of liability for substantial response costs and opportunities to make… READ MORE