For Immediate Release - April 16, 2015

MassDEP Announces Municipal Partnerships Office and Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is pleased to announce the creation of the Office of Municipal Partnerships and Governmental Affairs and the Office of Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman and Special Projects. These new offices will strengthen partnerships with cities and towns and promote increased understanding about the agency's programs that protect the environment and the public health.

"A deep bond with cities and towns across Massachusetts is a priority for the Baker-Polito Administration as we work together to improve the quality-of-life for all our citizens," said Lt. Governor Karyn E. Polito. "These new offices at MassDEP will help provide services tailored to each community's needs."

"Creating these offices will better enable MassDEP to work closely with communities and local officials throughout the Commonwealth," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. "I look forward to the efforts of the Municipal Partnerships and Ombudsman's offices as they engage regularly with municipalities, businesses, environmental advocates and all citizens with an interest in the work performed by MassDEP."

"Municipalities are our important partners in protecting the public health and the environment," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "We are excited to take a fresh look at how we engage with municipalities and develop new approaches to share timely information on our programs. These new offices are part of an ongoing effort to make sure that we are communicating effectively with all citizens who rely on us."

Office of Municipal Partnerships and Governmental Affairs

The Office of Municipal Partnerships within the Commissioner's Office will be a visible point-of-contact for municipalities and local officials, legislators and other governmental agencies. The office will also be responsible for coordinating efforts to provide up-to-date and effective forms of outreach and user-friendly assistance to groups that do business with MassDEP or rely on it for information. The office will be led by Beth Riportella. Ms. Riportella is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for MassDEP and will continue to serve in her role as Legislative Director for the Department.

Office of Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman and Special Projects

The new Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman's duties will include serving as an agency point-of-contact for large and complex projects, including those requiring permits, approval or review by more than one bureau or regional office within MassDEP. The Ombudsman will also be the point-of-contact for inquiries from citizens regarding issues in permitting or questions about how law, policy and regulations are being applied across the agency. The Ombudsman will gather information about claims and inquiries and ensure a timely and comprehensive review by MassDEP. The position will also document how the claims and inquiries were addressed and ensure publication of the results of the review to increase awareness of how MassDEP addresses these issues. The office will be directed by Kathleen Kerigan, an environmental engineer who worked in GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc.'s Remediation Division since 2011.

As part of MassDEP's renewed outreach efforts, the agency also intends to continue to work on modernizing its information systems to promote efficiency within the agency and allow more permitting and other functions to occur online. MassDEP's four regional offices - located in Wilmington, Lakeville, Worcester and Springfield - will continue to serve an important local function and as places for assistance with pre-permitting. MassDEP will also continue to work with established advisory groups and committees and identify where enhanced communications can benefit both the agency and citizens.

For more information on the Office of Municipal Partnerships and Governmental Affairs, turn to:

For more information on the Office of Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman and Special Projects, turn to:

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. 

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