DEEP: Guidelines for Declaratory Rulings

Office of Adjudications

Guidelines for Declaratory Rulings 
 
A Declaratory Ruling is a decision of the DEEP Commissioner regarding the validity of a regulation or the applicability of a provision of a statute, a regulation, or a final decision to specific circumstances on a matter within DEEP jurisdiction.

Commissioner Initiation and Issuance of Declaratory Rulings
The Commissioner may decide to issue a declaratory ruling and may direct that a hearing be held in any declaratory ruling proceeding.  Sixty days prior to issuing such a ruling or sixty days before a hearing is held, the Commissioner will mail notice to all persons who have requested notice and all persons known to have an interest in the subject matter of the declaratory ruling proceeding.  If more than fifty persons must receive a notice, the Commissioner may instead publish the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where each such person resides or has a principal place of business. The notice will provide information about the opportunity to file comments and to request party or intervenor status.
 
Petitions for a Declaratory Ruling
Any person may request a declaratory ruling by filing a written petition with the Commissioner. The petition must clearly and specifically describe the facts and circumstances that give rise to the petition; any statute, regulation or final decision of the Department at issue; and the particular issue or aspect of the law or final decision to which the petition is addressed.  The petition must be signed by the petitioner or by his or her attorney or other representative, if any, and must include the address and telephone number of the petitioner or any attorney or other representative. In general, the language of a petition should state its request as a question, such as:  “Did the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection err in denying a permit in the matter of…”

A petition must be accompanied by an affidavit that the petitioner has given notice of the substance of the petition, the opportunity to file comments with the Commissioner, and the right to request party or intervenor status.  Unless the Commissioner directs otherwise, the petitioner shall mail notice to all persons known to the petitioner to have an interest in the subject matter of the declaratory ruling proceeding. The affidavit must contain the name and address of each person to whom the notice was personally delivered or mailed and the date of the delivery. If more than fifty persons must receive a notice, the petitioner may publish the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where each such person resides or has a principal place of business. Questions on notice requirements should be directed to Dean Applefield of the Office of Legal Counsel at dean.applefield@ct.gov.
 
Within thirty days after the Commissioner receives a petition for declaratory ruling, the Commissioner will mail a notice of the receipt of the petition to any person who has requested notice of declaratory ruling petitions on the subject matter of the petition, any person who has been previously been given status as a party or an intervenor, and any person to whom notice is required by any provision of law.

Within sixty days after receipt of a petition, the Commissioner will: 1) issue a declaratory ruling; 2) order the matter set for specified proceedings; 3) agree to issue a declaratory ruling by a specified date; 4) decide not to issue a declaratory ruling and initiate regulation-making proceedings on the subject; or 5) decide not to issue a declaratory ruling, stating the reason for this decision. The Commissioner's decision and any declaratory ruling subsequently issued will be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any person granted status as a party or intervenor; any person who filed comments; and the petitioner.

Parties and Intervenors
The Commissioner and the petitioner are parties to the proceeding. In addition, any person may file a request to become an intervening party or an intervenor. Such a request and disposition thereof shall be governed by the provisions of Regs., Conn. State  Agencies §22a-3a-6(k).

Comments
Whether or not a hearing is held in a declaratory ruling proceeding, any person may file written comments in connection with such proceeding. Comments must be directed to the Commissioner, be signed by the commenter or by his or her attorney or other representative, and must contain the name and telephone number of the commenter or his or her attorney or other representative. Unless the Commissioner provides otherwise, comments must be filed within thirty days after receipt of mailed notice or publication of newspaper notice of the declaratory ruling proceeding.  Comments may be delivered personally or by mail or may be sent electronically to dean.applefield@ct.gov.  
 
Statutes and Regulations
Notwithstanding any explanation contained herein, the process governing declaratory rulings may be found in General Statutes §4-176 and RCSA §22a-3a-4.  Any hearing held will be governed by RCSA §22a-3a-6 and applicable provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, General Statutes §§4-166 through 4-189.

Where to send a Petition for a Declaratory Ruling
A petition must be addressed to the Commissioner and may be delivered in person or mailed to:
Commissioner
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106-5127
Alternatively, the petition may be sent by electronic mail to dean.applefield@ct.gov with the original signed document mailed to the Commissioner at the above address.