CLEAN WATER PROTECTION
CFE/Save the Sound Fights to Reduce Runoff Pollution into the Sound in NY: In a lawsuit filed by CFE/Save the Sound and other environmental organizations, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation must do more to clean up stormwater runoff across the state.
The court agreed with CFE/Save the Sound that the statewide “general permit” for municipal stormwater was not strong enough. Stormwater pollution from New York municipalities enters Long Island Sound and is a major contributor to the dead zone and high bacteria levels in both Connecticut and New York waters.
Currently, stormwater runoff contributes to the LIS dead zone, beach closings, impaired fisheries and shellfish harvesting. The court ordered NYDEC to fix several major flaws in the permit to ensure that all Clean Water Act requirements are met. The court required:
- NY DEC to exercise stricter oversight over municipal stormwater permits;
- Include detailed compliance schedules to reduce runoff pollution; and
- Allow the public to review and comment on municipal plans before they are approved.
STATUS: The decision is being appealed to the New York Appellate Division by the NY DEC where CFE/Save the Sound is defending the victory.
Read the NY Court Decision
CFE Challenges CT Stormwater Construction Permit: CFE has filed a formal legal challenge to the “general permit” for construction activities that was proposed by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
CFE is arguing that the standards in the permit are not sufficiently protective of water quality, particularly with respect to high quality water bodies such as drinking water supplies and cold-water trout streams. CFE is also arguing that the permit must include clear, enforceable standards that will require developers to use “Low Impact Development” or “Green Infrastructure” methods that are widely commercially available and will reduce pollution by preventing runoff.
STATUS: A hearing was held on June 24, 2011 and we are awaiting a decision from the DEEP Office of Adjudications.
Read our comments
CFE Compels Action on Bridgeport Raw Sewage Discharges to the Sound: In 2010, CFE filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue the City of Bridgeport in Federal Court to compel action to stop discharging gallons of raw sewage into Long Island Sound and its tributaries each year. As a result of this 60-day notice, Bridgeport agreed to create and implement a Long Term Control Plan to eventually eliminate such discharges.
STATUS: CFE/Save the Sound program is currently working with Bridgeport, DEEP and EPA to (1) shorten the timelines and include enforceable deadlines for the cleanup and (2) incorporate “Low Impact Development” and “Green Infrastructure” techniques into the cleanup.
Read the 60-Day Notice
CFE Forces DEEP to Act and Cleanup Nutrient Clogged Rivers: When the DEP (now DEEP) issued permits to sewage treatment plants in the towns of Cheshire and Derby, CFE intervened as legal parties to challenge the permits. We claimed that the Rivers were clogged with nutrient pollution as a result the plants' discharge and that DEEP's failure to require pollution controls was killing the rivers.
While scientists agree that discharges of phosphorous from sewage treatment plants cause harmful life killing algae blooms in lakes and rivers, almost all sewage treatment plants in Connecticut are allowed to discharge phosphorous with no limitations. Not only are algae unpleasant for swimmers and boaters, but it sucks oxygen from a river, reducing its ability to support fish and other marine life. Problems occur all over the state like Lake Lillinonah in the Northwest and the Quinebaug-Shetucket River in the Northeast.
As a result of our interventions, DEEP withdrew the draft permits and began discussions as to how to limit discharges of phosphorous from all sewage plants in the state to try to bring nutrient clogged rivers back to life.
STATUS: Those discussions are ongoing. CFE hopes to be able to resolve the issue through these discussions but is prepared to continue its challenge to protect our rivers and lakes.
Read our comments on Water Quality Standards
CFE Fighting to Replace Millstone's Fish-Killing Cooling System: The Millstone Plant, in operation since the early 1970s, withdraws over 2.2 billion gallons of water daily from Long Island Sound, destroying billions of fish and marine life when they are vacuumed into the cooling tower mechanics. Among other things, the cooling system contributed to the crash of winter flounder in the area. Although the facility's permit expired 11 years ago, DEP had failed to issue a new permit to require the installation of a modern cooling system that would minimize fish kills by 98 percent.
After legally challenging a permit, CFE received a requirement that Millstone perform a study to determine whether a closed cycle cooling system could be installed at its plant and that DEEP revisit its decision after the conclusion of that study.
STATUS: When those proceedings commence, CFE will reinstate its challenge to compel Millstone to reduce the enormous withdrawals and their impact on Long Island Sound.
HEALTHY FOREST AND DRINKING WATER PROTECTION
CFE Defends Towns' Ability to Protect Drinking Water Supplies: CFE filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Appellate Court as an intervening party, seeking to block a high-density development by Eureka V in 63 acres of the Saugatuck Drinking Water Watershed in Ridgefield.
CFE is arguing that the development, at the proposed densities, would be harmful to the drinking water supply and would set a bad precedent for developments in drinking water watersheds.
Ridgefield blocked the Saugatuck Watershed portion of the development proposal and granted the developer additional density outside of the watershed.
The developer appealed to the Superior and Appellate Courts and CFE has filed an amicus brief in the Appellate Court asking them to uphold the prior decisions to block the development.
STATUS: We are awaiting oral argument and a decision.
Read our Amicus Brief
CFE Fights to Stop Plan to Develop the Preserve in Old Saybrook: CFE legally opposed and successfully blocked a plan to develop a pristine 1,000 acre coastal forest known as the Preserve, one of the largest unprotected forests of its kind between NY and Boston, by building a golf course and a luxury housing development.
CFE previously presented experts that testified that the development would unreasonably fragment the coastal forest and harm the rich array of vernal pools, wetlands and wildlife.
CFE won decisions blocking the development at the Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands Commission, in the Superior Court and in the Appellate Court.
STATUS: CFE is continuing to work with Old Saybrook residents to fight back new proposals for development and to permanently protect the site.
Read the Appellate Court Decision
CFE/Save the Sound Opposes Sale of Plum Island in Long Island Sound: Pursuant to a Bush-era directive, the government is taking the first steps along a path that leads to selling 840 acres of gorgeous coastal habitat located off the eastern tip of Long Island. CFE/Save the Sound is working with a broad coalition of groups to stop the sale.
Plum Island and adjacent Great Gull and Little Gull Islands were identified for protection by the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative. Among the 33 Long Island Sound stewardship sites, the 2006 process identified Plum, Great Gull, and Little Gull Islands as possessing "exemplary" ecological value.
STATUS: We are currently awaiting the release of an Environmental Impact Statement for Plum Island, which will give our advocates an opportunity to oppose the sale.
CLEAN AIR AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
CFE Fights to Close Outdated Dirty Coal Plant in Bridgeport Neighborhood: CFE, working with a coalition of community groups, is fighting to close Bridgeport Harbor, the 40-year-old coal burning power plant that is polluting Bridgeport.
CFE has challenged Bridgeport Harbor's permit on the basis that the plant is operating in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. The mercury, soot, ozone and sulfur dioxide coming out of the plant contributes to Bridgeport having some of the unhealthiest air to breathe in the country.
STATUS: The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is in the process of scheduling a hearing on CFE's challenge.
DEFENDING CORE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
CFE Defends the Endangered Species Act: The Homebuilders Association of Connecticut is challenging a stormwater “general permit” issued by DEEP, arguing that DEEP has no authority to regulate state level endangered species, threatened species, or species of special concern that are not located on state lands.
CFE intervened as a party in the proceedings, arguing that DEEP has the obligation to ensure that state permitted actions do not unreasonably harm state listed species.
STATUS: DEEP is currently in the process of scheduling an adjudicatory hearing on the matter.
CFE Repeatedly Protects State Environmental Laws: Each year in the state legislature, powerful and connected interests seek to roll back environmental laws and rights of the public to challenge environmentally destructive projects. This year is no exception, with a coalition of developers, retailers, and large firm attorneys seeking to require that unsuccessful environmental interveners pay their attorneys' fees.
CFE is working with a broad coalition of environmental organizations to protect our laws and rights of citizens to speak up for the environment.
Read our op-ed