The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has filed a notice of intent informing the public it plans to start preparing an environmental impact statement for Dominion Energy’s Skiffes Creek Transmission Line project.
The project’s 17 500-kilovolt towers are already constructed and energized over the James River, but the environmental impact statement is part of a post hoc legal battle between Dominion and several environmental groups opposing the power line.
After Dominion received a permit to build the transmission line in July 2017, the National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia and the National Trust for Historic Preservation argued the Corps’ issuance of the permit violated the National Environmental Policy and Clean Water Act.
The permit was issued without the completion of the environmental impact statement, which a judge ruled in March should have been required ahead of the power line’s construction.
Moving forward, the retroactive preparation of the environmental impact statement involves at least one public meeting.
On June 21, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would hold a “public scoping” meeting on July 17 as part of the environmental impact statement.
The meeting will be from 5-8 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Williamsburg, 50 Kingsmill Road.
During the meeting, the public can give comments to the Army Corps to help identify significant issues — those issues should be addressed within the environmental impact study.
The finished environmental impact statement should be available for public review and comment around November.
Some environmental groups and local residents have been fighting the Dominion power line project for about seven years, some concerned about the impact to the river and its wildlife, others worried about preserving the viewshed along the historic James River.
According to the June 21 notice of intent, the Dominion transmission line permanently impacts 27,12 square feet of subaqueous river bottom and 281 square feet of non-tidal wetlands. It also converts 0.67 acres of palustrine forested non-tidal wetlands to palustrine scrub shrub non-tidal wetlands.
Dominion has said the 500,000-volt line is crucial to avoid rolling blackouts on the Virginia Peninsula. Some of the towers are as tall as 295 feet and carry power from Dominion’s Surry County nuclear plant to lower James City County.
Most recently, A Washington, D.C. Circuit Court judge made a decision to move the case back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings.
That decision was a response to Dominion’s plea for a court to rehear its case in May, about two months after an appeals court judge ruled the project permit was given outside of the law.
A Dominion spokeswoman said the case moved back to the district court for a review — in detail — on whether the Corps permit should be revoked while the environmental impact statement is underway.