Environmental Infrastructure Permitting

Practice Contacts

Environmental Infrastructure Permitting

The Gordon & Rees Environmental Infrastructure Permitting Group is a nationally recognized practice group providing services related to obtaining both state and federal permits in connection with infrastructure projects.

The Group is led by partners James Messenger and Margaret Stolfa.  Mr. Messenger is AV-Preeminent® rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has been lead counsel on several high-profile permitting/infrastructure projects.  Ms. Stolfa is also AV-Preeminent® rated and was the General Counsel of the Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection from 2002 to 2011. As MADEP General Counsel, Ms. Stolfa advised the Commissioner on priority regulatory programs, licenses and permits, and oversaw the environmental strike force and the adjudication of all state permits. She regularly litigates complex state and federal permitting and land use matters. Senior group member Randy Pais, Of Counsel, was previously an Assistant General Counsel at Kinder Morgan and Enron. Mr. Pais oversaw more than 25 major domestic and international infrastructure projects (including permit and land use issues) during his 19-year in-house career.

Several representative matters are listed below:

  • Permian Highway Pipeline Project – Counsel for the Permian Highway Pipeline Project, one of the largest natural gas pipeline projects currently under construction in the United States. The approximately $2 billion project is a 425-mile, 42-inch diameter underground natural gas pipeline that crosses more than 1,000 properties in Texas. Project highlights include filing numerous temporary restraining orders to obtain survey access rights; filing over 100 condemnation actions to acquire easement rights in three different jurisdictions; successfully trying over 60 administrative hearings; and negotiating dozens of possession and easement agreements.
     
  • Line 261 Upgrade Project – Counsel for the Line 261 Upgrade Project, a natural gas pipeline project involving the installation of approximately 2.1 miles of pipeline in western Massachusetts, and the removal of an inactive pipeline. Project highlights included successfully acquiring easement rights on twenty-five properties through negotiation and litigation.
     
  • Connecticut Expansion Project – Counsel for permitting and land acquisition in Massachusetts and Connecticut for the Connecticut Expansion Project, an approximately twelve-mile Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) interstate natural gas pipeline project. Project highlights included successfully acquiring state forest land for the project by obtaining a court decision that a Massachusetts constitutional amendment barring condemnation of state forest land was pre-empted by federal law. Significant decisions included:
     
    • Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company Co., LLC v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 1676CV00083 (Mass. Super. May 9, 2016) (holding that a Massachusetts constitutional amendment barring condemnation of state forest land was pre-empted by the Natural Gas Act).
       
    • In the Matter of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., LLC, MADEP Docket No. 16-020, File No. X265051 (Mar. 27, 2017) (upholding the issuance of a water quality certificate on appeal after an evidentiary hearing, and issuing a first impression ruling that the regional office of MADEP lacked authority to condition the grant of the permit on the exhaustion of appeals).
       
    • Berkshire Envtl. Action Team, Inc. v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., LLC, 851 F.3d 105 (1st Cir. 2017) (addressing the novel legal issue of whether the issuance of a water quality permit was a final agency action allowing the immediate appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals).

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