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Administrative Appeal Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George

 

SC19664 - Burton v. Commissioner of Environmental Protection (Injunction; action to enjoin intake and discharge of water from Long Island Sound by defendant nuclear power company for use at nuclear power station; motion to dismiss for lack of standing; "The issue that we must resolve in this appeal is whether the trial court properly dismissed the complaint claiming a violation of the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act of 1971 (act), General Statutes § 22a-14 et seq., on the ground of mootness. The plaintiff, Nancy Burton, brought this action against the defendants, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection (commissioner) and Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. (Dominion), claiming that the operation of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station (Millstone), which is owned and operated by Dominion, is causing unreasonable pollution of the waters of the state in violation of the act. Thereafter, the defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the plaintiff lacked standing, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed from the judgment of dismissal and, in Burton v. Commissioner of Environmental Protection, 291 Conn. 789, 792–93, 970 A.2d 640 (2009) (Burton I), this court reversed the judgment of dismissal. We concluded that the plaintiff had standing to bring her action under General Statutes § 22a-16 because she had alleged facts that would support inferences that: (1) unreasonable pollution, impairment or destruction of a natural resource would probably result from Millstone's operations; id., 804; and (2) pursuant to General Statutes § 22a-20, the pending administrative permit renewal proceeding for Millstone's operation was inadequate to protect the rights recognized by the act because the hearing officer and the Department of Environmental Protection (department) had not conducted the proceeding fairly and impartially. Id., 812. As the remedy, we ordered that the trial court conduct a hearing to determine whether the pending administrative proceeding was inadequate to protect the rights recognized by the act. Our decision in Burton I was officially released on June 2, 2009. On September 1, 2010, the administrative proceeding terminated when the commissioner issued a renewal permit for Millstone. Thereafter, the defendants filed separate motions to dismiss the plaintiff's action, contending that, because no hearing on the adequacy of the permit renewal proceeding had been conducted pursuant to this court's order in Burton I, and because the permit renewal proceeding had terminated, the plaintiff's action was moot. The trial court granted the motions to dismiss, and this appeal followed. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.")