“There’s such momentum, attention and real support for these issues,” she said. Her vision for DEP, she said, boiled down to two keywords: transparency and equity. “Massachusetts residents should know that in MassDEP they have a leader who will protect their communities,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement. Heiple said her top two priorities in the role are tackling climate change and PFAS – “promising environmental issues of our time.” It will also focus on efforts to adapt to climate effects such as increasing drought and the revision of government waste management plans. And to make it all happen, DEP will be hiring new staff.
Several of the Healey administration’s nominees for top environmental posts — including Energy and Environment Secretary Rebecca Tepper and Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer, both of whom worked with Healey when she was Attorney General — are familiar faces in the Massachusetts climate world. Heiple, on the other hand, is a lesser-known player. The daughter of a coastal engineer and a science teacher, Heiple’s passion for environmental issues began at an early age.
Prior to her appointment this month, she spent nearly 12 years as an environmental and energy attorney at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a law firm that the campus movement Law Students for Climate Accountability says has a mixed record on the climate field. Boston Magazine named her a “Top Lawyer” last year. “She is recognized by her peers as one of the leading environmental advocates in the region,” Tepper said.