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CT Senate leaders urge AG Tong to challenge ruling on Tweed Airport runway expansion

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The Democrat and Republican leaders of the Connecticut Senate have teamed up to urge state Attorney General William Tong to challenge a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that would allow Tweed New Haven Airport to expand the length of its main runway to accommodate new commercial air routes.

Last week, the court issued a 23-page decision that voided a 2009 state statute limiting the airport’s runway to 5,600 feet. The decision, which overturned a lower court ruling against the airport, acknowledged that Tweed’s runway is “one of the shortest commercial airport runways in the country” and determined that the final determination on its runway length lies with the Federal Aviation Administration and not the state. A bill that would have allowed for the runway expansion failed to make headway in the just-concluded legislative session.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) sent a letter to Tong urging him to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court – the next step in the judicial appeal process – by arguing that they had “serious concerns with the conclusion that a state statute regulating the length of runways is always superseded by the Federal Aviation Administration Act.”

They also accused the supporters of the runway expansion of engaging in “blatant disregard and multiple attempts to circumvent the state law passed in 2009 and the contract signed by all parties.”

Gov. Ned Lamont cited upgrading Tweed as part of his proposals to strengthen the state’s transportation infrastructure, but he made no public comment on either the court ruling or the senators’ request for legal intervention. Tong did not comment on the senators’ request, but the legislators suggested that the attorney general would be displaying weakness in leadership if he failed to heed them.

“Allowing the Second Circuit ruling to go unchallenged sets a dangerous precedent that the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut will not always vigorously defend Connecticut law when challenged by those whose goal is to restrict the ability of a state to protect its citizens using its police powers to enhance public safety,” the senators wrote.

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