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 and regulatory requirements.
“I know, during the pandemic, we had two
different cases involving air permits, which can be among the most complicated DEP issues,” he went on. “Those two permit applications were turned around faster than any we’ve worked on. I’d like to think we did a good job on the appli- cations, but the turnaround times were most satisfactory to our clients.”
It’s difficult to gauge how the pandemic
the pandemic is the shift by so many companies to remote work, Peter said, noting that he does a lot of work in the seaport district of Boston, and commercial real estate there is worth about 50% of its pre-pandemic value, while suburban locations with plenty of fresh air and space have risen in value.
That trend may not last forever, Daley said, for some of the communication-related factors mentioned earlier.
— most notably for urban developers — signifi- cantly increases protections for ‘environmental justice communities’ across Massachusetts.
EJ communities, as they’re known, are those which have, historically, been overburdened
by poor air quality and disproportionately high levels of pollution; they are often low-income. The new law requires an environmental-impact report for all projects that affect air quality with- in one mile of an EJ neighborhood, and requires the DEP to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative-impact analysis as a con- dition of permitting certain projects.
“That’s needed, I think,” Daley said, noting that he hopes the environmental council the law calls for has adequate representation from EJ communities in Western Mass. “It’s important that we have representation on that council. Far too often, Western Mass. has one token person on a committee, and 17 from the Boston area. This is a great start, but our people need to have a say.”
Gorski said the emphasis on environmental justice is positive because people have a right to a meaningful say in what goes on in their neighborhoods.
“The DEP has had an EJ policy for some time, and we’ve had public involvement in
the planning process, but the climate bill now makes that law, and we’re going to be proactive- ly reaching out to various community groups
to involve them and educate them, so when
we have these public hearings for complicated permits and things of that nature, people under-
Environment
Continued on page 57
      CHRISTOPHER MYHRUM
“I think one would be in error to believe the EPA’s priorities and activities are going to continue the way they did under the previous administration.”
“Once the pandemic subsides a little bit, I think people will go back
to the office, if for nothing more than partnership and collaboration efforts,” he noted. “I know we do a lot of work on 24-by-36 paper and laying things out, and it’s hard to do that in a Zoom meeting, to look at plans and assess the true value of what you’re going to do.
“Not everyone will go back to work — I agree with that — but I do think, as time goes on and the pandemic hope- fully subsides and we pass through
has affected regulation on the national level, Myhrum said, adding that a change in presi- dential administration will likely have a greater impact.
“The EPA under Trump was not known for being particularly aggressive, having a former coal lobbyist as its administrator. So I think one would be in error to believe the EPA’s priorities and activities are going to continue the way they did under the previous administration. I think it will be interesting to see how the situation plays out.”
Another issue impacting developers during
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this, people have to go back to the office, at least on a hybrid basis,” he went on. “I’m a firm believer in working together and collaborating, and Zoom doesn’t really produce that.”
Issues of Justice
Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new climate-change law that codifies a com- mitment to achieve net-zero emissions in 2050; authorizes the administration to implement a new, voluntary, energy-efficient building code for municipalities; allows the Commonwealth to procure additional offshore wind energy, and
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