June 2018 Legal Updates

June 2018 Legal Updates

Sometimes, only legal action can remedy a threat to your lands, air, and water. Here are updates on some of CFE/Save the Sound’s active cases from CFE’s Chief Legal Director, Roger Reynolds.

Restoring Your Ratepayer Energy Funds

Nearly every Connecticut electric customer pays into state funds for energy efficiency and clean energy programs—programs intended to save money for families, clean the air we breathe, and spur economic growth. However, last fall the state government unconstitutionally diverted what was ultimately $145 million of those ratepayer funds to plug an unrelated budget gap.

That’s why, on May 15, we filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Connecticut demanding the funds’ return. Our co-plaintiffs and partners include Leticia Colon and Efficiency for All, clean energy trade group Solar Connecticut, consumer rights groups Fight the Hike and CCAG, and additional efficiency and solar businesses.

We’re continuing to press the case, and make sure lawmakers understand the devastating impact the raids are having on Connecticut small businesses. The judge agreed to our request for an expedited schedule and we are hoping to have a decision by early fall.

Read more:

Double Dose for Oswegatchie

We are fighting on two fronts to save the Oswegatchie Hills and Niantic River in East Lyme. On April 10, I argued to the Appellate Court that the town is sewer constrained and should not be forced to allocate a huge portion of its remaining capacity to develop an environmentally sensitive area that has repeatedly been identified for conservation. On May 17, I argued to the Superior Court that the court should dismiss the developer’s appeal of the zoning commission’s decision because it was taken too soon. The sewer appeal will be particularly important to the fate of this property and we are awaiting both decisions in the coming months.

Water Quality in the Western Sound…

In our federal action against Scott Pruitt and EPA, we are continuing to press our case that they have failed to adequately address public health needs in New York City through protective water quality standards. These standards will also determine the extent to which New York City will be required to reduce discharges of partially treated sewage into the waters in the next several decades.

We continue to work with Westchester County and nine remaining municipalities against which we filed suit to evaluate and discuss their proposed plans for resolving longstanding sewage leaks and overflows. We have paused the litigation to seek an agreement. We’re making progress and have entered consent orders requiring extensive repairs with some; with others we may be heading back to court.

…and in the Connecticut River

Soundkeeper Bill Lucey and Staff Attorney Jack Looney traveled to Springfield in April to demand the EPA strengthen the wastewater treatment plant’s permit to meaningfully reduce the bacteria and excess nitrogen that have been allowed to flow into the Connecticut River—and ultimately the Sound—for decades. Read more in our press release.

Saving Plum Island

After the Judge ruled that our case could go forward (denying a motion to dismiss), the government answered the complaint and the judge set a briefing schedule. We expect to present briefs to the court in late 2018 and present our case that the Government failed to adequately consider the island’s natural resources and conservation alternatives.

We’ll keep you updated as these actions move forward. Thank you for your support!

 

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