Gregor I. McGregor
Chairman of governmental affairs, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC)
Wellesley, Massachusetts

Gregor I. McGregor, an awardee in the local government category, is a pioneer in environmental law and wetlands protection. From his roots as a Conservation Commission member in Wellesley, Massachusetts, he has helped to shape environmental protection throughout New England.McGregor gained his love for the outdoors at Dartmouth College, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1966, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1969 before courses in environmental law were available. He began his first position as a Massachusetts assistant attorney general at an annual salary of only $7,500.But the job had scope. As Earth Day dawned, McGregor found himself representing Massachusetts, helping to shut down burning dumps, stopping discharges of raw sewage to lakes and rivers, and penalizing the fillers of wetlands. Then-Attorney General Robert Quinn appointed McGregor as chief of an as-yet unborn Division of Environmental Protection and gave him his first assignment: make it happen. So McGregor wrote the statute that established the division, and then helped lobby it through the legislature.As chief of the Attorney General’s Division of Environmental Protection, McGregor headed a legal team that brought a series of highly successful wetlands protection, pollution, and illegal dumping cases. After a 42-day administrative trial, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station found itself with environmental conditions embedded in its operating license. The major airlines using Boston’s Logan Airport found themselves installing low-smoke jet engines. In fact, runway construction at Logan was closed down to enforce the new state Environmental Policy Act. This landmark case established that environmental impact reports are not appendages to add to finished projects, but must be intrinsic parts of construction planning.During the 1972 legislative session, McGregor led the effort to create the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. For the first time in any state, the new Act entrusted wetlands protection to local conservation commissions.McGregor put the Wetlands Protection Act to the test by joining the Wellesley Conservation Commission soon after it was formed. He became chairman and guided the Commission on a course of full and fair enforcement. In 1979, McGregor helped draft the special act of the state legislature that created the only elected conservation commission in New England—the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission—a board that adds the powers of park commissions and tree wardens to those of conservation commissions. Not surprisingly, he was elected.Meanwhile, against all advice, McGregor had started his own environmental law practice. Today, he is well known as the founder of McGregor, Shea & Doliner, the largest environmental law firm in New England.McGregor next became president of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC), the first organization of municipal environmental officials in the country. He currently serves as its chairman of governmental affairs. There, he drafted its policy for a no net loss of wetlands. He also wrote the MACC Model Home Rule Wetlands Protection Bylaw, which has been adopted by over 100 Massachusetts cities and towns.It would take too long to list McGregor’s achievements as a litigator, teacher, and author. Suffice it to say that in Lovequist v. the Conservation Commission of the Town of Dennis, McGregor argued the case in which the right of towns to adopt wetlands by-laws under home rule was upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. His course on environmental law at Tufts University is always over-subscribed.— Judith Nicolson, Director, Natural Resources Commission, Wellesley, Massachusetts