Seth D. Jaffe

Partner, Coordinator, Environmental Practice Group - Boston

Bio photo for Seth Jaffe
Download Media Photo

Contact Information

Seth Jaffe is recognized by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts Super Lawyers as a leading practitioner in environmental compliance and related litigation. He is one of the authors of the Law and the Environment Blog,, which provides real-world perspectives on current developments in environmental law and regulation. Seth is a past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

Seth works on a wide range of environmental law issues, representing clients in the permitting/licensing of new facilities and offering ongoing guidance on permitting and enforcement related matters under federal and state Clean Air Acts, Clean Water Acts, RCRA, and TSCA. He also advises on wetlands and waterways regulation. Seth’s clients include electric generating facilities, companies in the printing and chemical industries, and education and health care institutions.

More »


  • Yale Law School, J.D., 1986
  • Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, M.P.P., 1983
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), S.B., Phi Beta Kappa, 1981

Representative Experience

  • Provides ongoing compliance advice to fossil fuel-fired electric generating facilities.
  • Represents various firms in energy generation and transmission siting and licensing new projects.
  • Represented GenOn Kendall LLC in pathbreaking settlement of claims related to renewal of its NPDES permit.
  • Represented the owner of several hydropower facilities in defense of citizen suit claims under the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.
  • Represents several PRPs and groups of PRPs in all aspects of CERCLA remedy negotiation and implementation including related litigation.
  • Represented Boston University in the development of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories in Boston, Massachusetts, including assistance in complying with NEPA and MEPA.
  • Represents the owner of several municipal waste combustors in ongoing compliance matters, the development of new projects, and related litigation.
  • Has represented companies in various industries in defense of EPA actions regarding excessive truck idling.
  • Represented W.R. Grace in a successful challenge to enforcement of a municipal cleanup by-law by the Town of Acton, MA. The court found the by-law preempted by federal and state law.
  • Represented Mohegan Sun Massachusetts in connection with environmental reviews of its proposed casino in Revere, MA.
  • Represented RCRA TSDF in forestalling a potential criminal prosecution resulting from a fatal accident at the facility.
  • Defended Verizon in a private contribution action under CERCLA and obtained precedent-setting decision holding that private plaintiffs must prove that a defendant’s waste caused the incurrence of response costs in order to prevail under CERCLA.
  • GHG Regulations: A Cautionary Tale, FIERCE ENERGY (July 2014)
  • Supreme Court GHG Ruling Q&A, ENVIRONMENT ENERGY PRO (June 2014)
  • Supreme Court Takes on GHG Regulation,  POWER ENGINEERING  (Co-Author with Robynn Andracsek, December 2013)
  • Sackett to ’Em: Could the Supreme Court Decision in Sackett V. EPA Limit EPA’s Authority Under CERCLA, SUPERFUND AND NATIONAL RESOURCE DAMAGES LITIGATION COMMITTEE NEWSLETTER (December 2011)
  • A new legal weapon to use against local land-use regs, 24 BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: REAL ESTATE QUARTERLY (July 2001)
  • Stephanie Goldenhersh and Seth Jaffe, The Supreme Court Constitutionalizes Local Permit Disputes, 44 BOSTON BAR JOURNAL, NO. 4
  • Regulation After American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. EPA: What Other Environmental Statutes Are Vulnerable?, 13 EPA ADMINISTRATIVE LAW REPORTER, NO. 6
  • CERCLA Retroactivity Revisited: Does the Supreme Court Decision in Apfel Mean the District Court Decision in Olin was at Least Half Right?, 36 CHEMICAL WASTE LITIGATION REPORTER, NO. 4
  • Acushnet v. Coaters: What Role Now for Causation?, 38 CHEMICAL WASTE LITIGATION REPORTER
  • Massachusetts Brownfields Legislation: A Description and Analysis, 42 BOSTON BAR JOURNAL, NO. 5
  • Winning a Causation Case under CERCLA: An Analysis of Acushnet v. Coaters, 11 TOXICS LAW REPORTER, NO. 18
  • The Market's Response To Environmental Inequity: We Have the Solution; What's the Problem, 14 VA.ENVTL.L.J., NO. 3
  • Seth Jaffe and Robert Sanoff, Navigating the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, 7 BEST OF MCLE JOURNAL, NO. 2
  • Cummings v. Executive Office of Environmental Affairs: The SJC Restricts Access to the Courts in Environmental Cases, 33 BOSTON BAR JOURNAL, NO. 3

Foley Hoag Alerts & Updates


  • Named BEST LAWYERS’ Boston Litigation - Environmental Lawyer of the Year (2013, 2016 and 2020)
  • Named BEST LAWYERS’ Boston Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year (2010, 2015 and 2018)
  • Ranked by CHAMBERS USA: AMERICA'S LEADING LAWYERS FOR BUSINESS as one of Massachusetts' leading environmental lawyers (2003-2020)
  • Recognized by INTERCONTINENTAL FINANCE MAGAZINE as an ICFM 500 Leading Lawyer
  • Named as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts
  • National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Massachusetts Chapter, Public Service Award, 2009
  • National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Massachusetts Chapter, Public Service Award, 1998


  • American College of Environmental Lawyers, President, 2013
  • Environmental League of Massachusetts, Board Member, 2005-present;  Chairman of the Board, 2011-2016
  • NAIOP Massachusetts Chapter, Member, Government Affairs Advisory Committee; Co-Chair, Environmental Committee, 2005-2013
  • Massachusetts Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, Board Member, 2003-2011
  • New Ecology, Inc., Board Member, 1999-2009
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Regulatory Reform Task Force 2011
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Greenhouse Gas Policy Work Group, 2009
  • Boston Bar Association Environmental Section, Chair, 1999-2002
  • Boston Bar Association Environmental Section, Hazardous Waste Committee, Chair, 1995-1997
  • Boston Bar Journal, Board of Editors, 1998-2000
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Wetlands Program, Volunteer Mediator, 1993-1995; Trained mediator
  • New Ecology, Inc., Board Member, 1999-2008
  • Massachusetts Environmental Justice Network, Steering Committee Member, 1994 -2003

Add to Bio Folder

Download Bio

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit