Practice

Environmental Permitting & Compliance

Helping clients attain their business and sustainability goals in a cost-effective way

As regulations proliferate, ESG concerns intensify, and various stakeholders look for companies to announce and attain zero-carbon climate goals, Foley Hoag’s environmental lawyers use their deep knowledge of the regulatory and policy landscape and their understanding of their clients’ businesses and the markets in which they operate to help their clients grow and operate their business while cost-effectively maintaining compliance with both regulatory and non-regulatory standards. We work every day at the intersection of business, technology, and regulation.

For more than 40 years, we’ve represented many different types of organizations in environmental law, from emerging businesses and Fortune 500 companies, to municipalities and state authorities. Our experience includes helping clients assess and manage environmental risks, obtain environmental approvals, anticipate compliance issues, address compliance challenges as they arise, incorporate newer goals such as climate and other ESG objectives, and anticipate and avoid enforcement and other disputes. Specific areas of expertise include: 

  • Siting and permitting energy, infrastructure, institutional, commercial, and other complex facilities at the local, state, and federal level
  • Performing environmental due diligence to support transactions, including structuring deals to minimize risk, and procuring environmental insurance
  • Providing compliance advice to regulated entities, including responding to enforcement actions and resolving administrative disputes
  • Advising on compliance with the range of traditional environmental regulations and policies, such as those related to clean air, clean water, waste site cleanups, wetlands and waterways, open space preservation, endangered species, and 
  • Working in teams with clients and technical consultants to perform investigations of contaminated or potentially contaminated property, and to implement programs for regular compliance audits of ongoing operations
  • Advising clients on setting and attaining climate goals, include zero-carbon emissions plans, resiliency efforts, and other sustainability and ESG objectives
  • Counseling clients regarding new developments in advancing protections for Environmental Justice communities

We have been recognized since 2003 as a “Band 1” environmental law practice in Massachusetts in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and have been designated as a top practice every year, from 2003-2022. We also maintain the leading "Law and the Environment" blog, with regular updates on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments affecting environmental issues.

Experience

  • We successfully guided Commonwealth Fusions System, one of the leading developers of fusion energy in the world, through a site selection process to build a facility for the first fusion demonstration that generates more energy than it consumes. The work has included addressing the project’s unique energy needs, negotiating the environmental components of the acquisition of a complicated former military use site, guiding the project through licensing and environmental review processes, and securing approvals from multiple regulatory authorities with jurisdiction over the site including the local land use authority, the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Massachusetts Radiation Control Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
  • We represent the New England Aquarium, one of the iconic museums and educational institutions in Boston, in connection with a proposal for a substantial new development on property abutting the Aquarium and associated city and state planning efforts for the downtown Boston waterfront. The proposed development raises issues concerning how to make the waterfront in the vicinity of the Aquarium resilient to the impacts of climate change and how to increase the inclusiveness of this area of the waterfront for residents of Boston. Following a court decision invalidating the governing city and state planning documents, we have advised the Aquarium regarding potential legislative, regulatory, and zoning strategies to promote a more inclusive, resilient, and equitable waterfront.  
  • We advise a large manufacturer of specialty chemicals and related products on a number of broad-ranging compliance issues, from advice concerning compliance with hazardous waste regulations under RCRA, to assistance in implementing a corporate risk analysis regarding potential exposure to cleanup responsibility and/or exposure to tort claims related to the company’s use of compounds that may contain PFAS.
  • We represented the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in its participation in a multi-agency and multi-state effort to develop a regional program to limit greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, known as the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI. The work involved complicated issues regarding state authority to regulate GHG emissions from transportation, the nature of any charge that would be imposed, and the details of cooperation among states..  
  • We successfully represented Vineyard Wind in energy, environmental permitting and related appeals for the 800 MW “Vineyard Wind” project, the first large-scale off-shore wind farm in North America. Vineyard Wind LLC (Massachusetts EFSB 17-05 and 19-05)
  • We provide energy, environmental permitting and related advice to the 804 MW “Park City Wind” off-shore wind project. Vineyard Wind LLC (now Park City Wind)  (Massachusetts EFSB 20-01), 
  • We represent FirstLight Power Resource in relicensing efforts for a 1,200 MW pumped storage and traditional hydroelectric development. FirstLight Power Resources, Turners Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC No.1889) and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project (FERC No. 2485).
  • We represent owners of a 676 MW pumped storage and traditional hydroelectric facility in an appeal of a state water quality certification denial. Bear Swamp Power Company, LLC (FERC No. 2669, MA OADR 2020-20).
  • We represent clients in environmental and land use permitting, due diligence, transactional, compliance and litigation matters for solar power projects.
  • We have advised many energy facility operators regarding regulatory compliance issues, including development and implementation of strategy to address water supply issues, development and implementation of strategy to pursue permit modifications to facilitate more efficient operations, addressing impact of planned plant closures on existing licenses and associated obligations, addressing and responding to EPA Information Requests and Notices of Violation, and meeting requirements of Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Toxic Use Reduction Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
  • We advise a national private real estate investment, development, and management firm, on all environmental aspects of acquisitions, sales, redevelopments, and refinancings, including conducting environmental due diligence, managing risks through transaction structuring, evaluating and selecting environmental insurance policies to protect assets, and managing remediation of contaminated sites under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan.