Seth D. Jaffe

Partner, Coordinator, Environmental Practice Group - Boston

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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.

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  • 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 (2003-2019)
  • 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

  • Panel Member, “Trends in Development and Environmental Review,” NAIOP Massachusetts seminar “Navigating the Permitting Maze: A Crash Course on Permitting in Massachusetts,”  September 2019 
  • Clean Air Act Citizen Suits: Defense and Litigation Strategies,” Strafford Webinar, July 2017
  • "Regulatory Changes/Updates," NECA Environmental Conference, June 2017 
  • Panel Member, “Climate Change: Are We Now on a Path to Real Decarbonization?,” Yale Law School Alumni Weekend, October 2016
  • Panel member, "Defending Against Citizen Suits Under Environmental Laws," Strafford Webinar, July 2016
  • “Getting Your Foot in the Door: How to Get Hired by In-House Counsel,” ABA Fall Conference, October 2015
  • “Federal Air, Climate, and Energy Cases: A Summer Round-Up and a Look Ahead,” Boston Bar Association, September 2015
  • "Federal Environmental Issues Driving the Electricity and Gas Industries," Law Seminars International Eleventh Annual Comprehensive Conference on Energy in the Northeast, September 2014
  • Panel member for Environmental Business Council New England, Inc. program, "Panel Discussion with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner David Cash," April 2014
  • Moderator, "Environmental Citizen Suits: Procedural Issues, Substantive Updates and Strategic Considerations," Law Seminars International, March 2014
  • "Climate Change Tort Litigation After AEP and Kivalina," Boston Bar Association, December 2012
  • "Environmental Due Diligence and Risk Allocation: A Focus on Vapor Intrusion," at EDR Due Diligence at Dawn, April 2012 
  • "EPA Final Mercury & Air Toxics Standard: A Look Ahead," Boston Bar Association, February 6, 2011 
  • "GenOn Kendall NPDES Permit Settlement with EPA, DEP, CLF, & CRWA," Boston Bar Association, April 7, 2011 
  • "Increasing Use of Environmental Citizens' Suits and Citizen Involvement in Enforcement Action: the Private Sector Perspective," Boston Bar Association CLE on Environmental Enforcement: the Cutting Edge, November 2010
  •  Chair, MCLE program "Environmental Law and Land Use Case Update 2011," October 2010
  • "CEQ Draft Guidance on Consideration of the Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Law Seminars International Third Annual Workshop on Developments Under MEPA & NEPA, conference co-chair and presenter, June 2010
  • "Massachusetts Stormwater Update: Key Federal and State Level Programs," Law Seminars International Seminar on "Stormwater Regulation in New England: New Regulatory, Legal and Business Developments," November 2009
  • "Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation," at the NAIOP Public Affairs Breakfast, October 2009
  • Chair, MCLE program "Environmental & Land Use Caselaw Update 2009," September 2009
  • "Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States - Changing the Landscape of CERCLA Liability," at the Environmental Litigation Committee and Hazardous & Solid Waste Committee of the Boston Bar Association Seminar "The Supreme Court’s decision in Burlington Northern v. United States," June 2009
  • Co-Chair, Law Seminars International Advanced Workshop, "MEPA & NEPA - New developments in legislation, implementation and litigation," June 2009 
  • "Current Environmental Issues for Hospital Construction," at the Massachusetts Hospital Association's 3rd Annual Healthcare Construction Conference "What’s Possible in this Economic Climate?," May 2009
  • "Climate Change Legislation - The Current Forecast," at the Boston Bar Association Seminar "Let the Games Begin: Federal Climate Change & Energy Legislation, Round 1," May 2009
  • Panel member for NAIOP seminar "DEP’s Draft Stormwater Regulations: A Primer on Costly Changes Expected to Affect Most Existing and New Commercial and Institutional Properties in Massachusetts," February 2009
  • "Private Litigation Under CERCLA after U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp.," at the Boston Bar Association Seminar "CERCLA Lawsuits by Private Parties after U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp.," December 2008
  • Super MEPA", at the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Seminar “Hot Off the Hill: NAIOP Regulatory & Legislative Update,” October 2008
  • Climate Change in the New England and Mid-Atlantic States: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” at the American College of Environmental Lawyers Annual Meeting, September 2008
  • Environmental Due Diligence and Risk Allocation,” at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education seminar, “Environmental Law Basics,” September 2008
  • Co-Chair, Law Seminars International Advanced Workshop, "MEPA and NEPA - New developments in implementation, litigation and legislation," June 2008
  • “Brownfields Development: Critical Legal Issues,” at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education seminar, “Brownfields: Legal and Practical Tips To Get A Good Deal Done,” September 2006
  • “Cooper v. Aviall: Does Superfund Ever Make Sense,” at Boston Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Seminar, “Chapter 21E Litigation: Latest Developments,” December 2005
  • Panel member for NAIOP seminar, “Turning Brown Into Green: A "How To" Guide on Brownfields Redevelopment in Massachusetts,” November 2004
  • Panel member for the Environmental Expo, “EHS Management Integration: EPA, OSHA, and Resource Constraints,” May 2004
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Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Court Admissions

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