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Your Legal Watchdogs

Legal Director Roger Reynolds gives us an update on the many cases CFE/Save the Sound’s legal department is working on.

“The legal docket is fuller, and more important, than ever before. As Scott Pruitt begins his quest to dismantle and defund the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection continue to lose resources, CFE/Save the Sound must be the defenders and enforcers of last resort.” – Roger Reynolds, legal director

In the last year we have:

  1. Taken 12 cities in Connecticut and New York to court to stop the discharge of raw sewage (Danbury and 11 towns impacting Long Island Sound in Westchester County).
  2. Sued the federal Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration to compel compliance with environmental laws and prevent the sale Plum Island to the highest bidder.
  3. Opposed a new, destructive and unneeded natural gas plant in proceedings before the CT Siting Council.
  4. Challenged the Connecticut Airport Authority’s unnecessary and environmentally destructive plans to overcut trees near airports.
  5. Awaiting Connecticut state court action in our efforts to Save the Oswegatchie Hills on the Niantic River in East Lyme, Connecticut.

Solving Sewage Leaks in Westchester

CFE/Save the Sound v. County of Westchester
(Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York)

Last year we filed Clean Water Act claims in federal District Court against Westchester County and its eleven municipalities for failing to maintain its wastewater system and discharging raw sewage into Long Island Sound.

All parties are now engaged in settlement discussions about a cooperative regional plan to study and fix the sewer pipe breaks and leaks. As our lawsuit alleging Clean Water Act violations in Westchester continues, we recently met with the judge and municipalities. Save the Sound is pushing for an aggressive but reasonable timeline for a regional plan to resolve local sewage infrastructure problems. See a recent article on this here.

Danbury’s Sewage Overflows

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Example of discharge into public waters

CFE/Save the Sound v. City of Danbury
(District Court for the District of CT)

We just filed an amended complaint alleging Danbury had over 65 spills resulting in over 450,000 gallons of raw sewage entering Danbury area waters including the Still and Housatonic Rivers that ultimately flow into Long Island Sound. We are also representing our allies, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut and Friends of the Lake (Lillinonah), Inc. More information here.

Saving Plum Island

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Photo by Robert Lorenz

CFE/Save the Sound v. Department of Homeland Security (Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York)

We have claimed the Government’s environmental analysis of the island was insufficient and violated several federal laws and they have moved to dismiss our complaint as premature. We filed our response arguing that the decision is appealable and final under the National Environmental Protection Act. We expect a decision on the motion to dismiss by fall 2017. See the East End Beacon article for more info. (For more background, see the Hartford Courant article here, or check out the Wall Street Journal.)

Killingly Power Plant 

NTE Connecticut, LLC application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need
(Siting Council Docket 470)

We opposed NTE’s application to construct a new natural gas plant in Killingly that would violate Connecticut’s greenhouse gas goals on the grounds that the application was improperly segmented and did not include all environmental impacts. Last month, ISO New England did not choose the plant as a necessity during its capacity auction, which we believe supports our argument that the plant is not needed. Hartford Courant article here.

Airport Tree Removal 

Draft EIE for Airport Tree Removal at Bluff Point State Park
(Hartford-Brainard Airport and Killingly Airport)

We are now involved in three proceedings before the Connecticut Airport Authority concerning plans to conduct tree removal at three regional airports in Connecticut. We believe that the tree removal proposals are both unnecessary to ensure airport safety and unduly destructive and that the plans do not comply with the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act. More here.

Oswegatchie Hills  

Landmark Development Group v. East Lyme Zoning Commission

The battles have moved from the land use agencies into the courts. The developer has two appeals (one in the Superior Court and one in the Appellate Court) and we are fighting both with our partners from Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills and Save the River Save the Hills. The stakes are high because, if approved, the development would decimate the Oswegatchie Hills with 840 housing units and 1767 parking places. Read about it here.

Questions?

Want more information on these cases or our other legal projects in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts? Get in touch with us anytime! Contact Melissa Schlag at mschlag@ctenvironment.org.

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