CONNECTICUT ENERGY MARKETERS ASSOCIATION v.

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION et al., SC 19620

Judicial District of Hartford

 

       Environment; Whether Environmental Policy Act Requires State Agencies to Perform Environmental Impact Evaluations in Connection with Agencies’ Involvement in Statewide Natural Gas Expansion Project.  The plaintiff is a trade association whose members sell gasoline and heating fuel in Connecticut.  The plaintiff brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief claiming that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) violated the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (act) by helping to advance a plan to expand the state’s natural gas infrastructure without first performing an environmental impact evaluation.  The act requires a state agency to perform an environmental evaluation before performing any action “which may significantly affect the environment.”   The defendants, DEEP and the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, moved to dismiss the suit, claiming it was barred by sovereign immunity.  The trial court agreed and dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction, finding that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim under the act.  The court found that the act required an environmental impact evaluation only for activities that are funded by or proposed to be undertaken by the state and that, here, the natural gas expansion project initiated by the legislature and developed and funded by private companies did not constitute state action as contemplated by the act.  The plaintiff appeals, claiming that the trial court wrongly dismissed the action on determining that it had not stated a claim under the act.  The plaintiff argues that an environmental impact evaluation is required any time a state agency takes regulatory action proposing or initiating any activity, or sequence of activities, that may adversely affect the environment.