The CT Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Conn. Gen. Statutes Sec. 22a-19, was adopted in the early 1970s before most other environmental laws were enacted. It allows anyone in the state to intervene in any permit proceeding to allege potential environmental harm may be caused by a proposed project. However, it has been abused by interests who do not have any real environmental issue but oppose a particular development for other reasons.
In 2013, HBRACT obtained an amendment to CEPA - the first change in its forty year plus history.
PA 13-186, effective October 1, 2013, is intended to force environmental intervenors to identify - with more specific facts - their allegations of environmental harm about proposed projects.
The amendment requires the intervention petition to include specific facts describing the nature of the alleged harm and facts that allow the permitting agency to determine whether the environmental issue raised is within its jurisdiction. This minor, yet hard fought, reform, strongly opposed by the CT Fund for the Environment and CT DEEP, is intended to stop abusive or nuisance intervention petitions – i.e., those from competitors or NIMBYs who cannot allege any real environmental harm.
PA 13-186 was passed by the State Senate unanimously, and the State House 134-10. A democratic house leader remarked after the vote on the watered-down final legislation that, "at least we know who the 10 environmental wackos are." See the House vote tally.
Importantly, legitimate and real environmental issues can still be raised under the amended CEPA, as they should.
PA 13-186 represents a minor, yet significant and common sense, reform to an otherwise well-intentioned law. Other abuses of this law should also be addressed so it truly operates as a good and reasonable environmental protection measure.
Check with your land use or environmental counsel for any updates to laws and regulations.