Monday, July 15, 2024

Conservation group to appeal ruling on Skiffes Creek transmission line

A simulated view of the Skiffes Creek project from the Kingsmill Resort area. (Courtesy Dominion Power)
A simulated view of the Skiffes Creek project from the Kingsmill Resort area. (Courtesy Dominion Power)

A conservation group will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that allows work to continue on Dominion Energy’s Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line over the James River.

On May 24, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the National Parks Conservation Association in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last July. The suit claims the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy and the Clean Water Act when it issued a permit for the project to Dominion.

Lamberth also ruled in favor of the Corps in a similar suit filed last August by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

All three groups are nonprofits that aim to preserve historic sites.

The National Parks Conservation Association’s appeal calls for a panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review Lamberth’s ruling, according to a news release.

“While we were extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling, we assured our members, supporters and the thousands of people who have spoken out against this project that NPCA would continue to fight to ensure this iconic place and all it represents is protected, and today, we stand by that promise,” said Theresa Pierno, National Parks Conservation Association president and CEO, in the news release.

In their lawsuits, the groups claimed that the Corps granted Dominion a permit to begin construction last summer without completing an environmental impact statement, which is necessary by law under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to Preservation Virginia.

The statement is meant to address any adverse environmental consequences of projects and present alternative actions.

The ruling only said the Corps followed the necessary procedural steps but did not determine whether the agency came to the right “substantive result” regarding the project’s impacts.

The plaintiffs also contended the project would “directly harm” historic sites along the river, including Jamestown Island, Colonial National Historical Park, the Colonial Parkway and the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The Skiffes Creek project will include the construction of 17 towers — some as tall as 295 feet — to carry an electrical transmission line over the James River that will bring power from Dominion’s Surry County nuclear plant to lower James City County.

Dominion has said the $325-million project is necessary to provide reliable energy to customers on the Peninsula. Construction is expected is to be finished next summer.

“Dominion Energy remains committed to building this urgently needed and thoroughly studied project,” Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Harris said after last week’s ruling.

WYDaily archives were used in this report.

Bryan DeVasher
Bryan DeVasher
Bryan DeVasher is the managing editor-digital of WYDaily. A resident of Hampton Roads for more than two decades, he has worked for news organizations in Virginia, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. He most recently was a member of the public relations staff for Virginia State Police.

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