Sunday, November 27, 2022

Army Corps extends opportunity for public comment on Skiffes Creek Transmission Line

Several of Dominion's towers for the Skiffes Creek Transmission Line can be seen along the horizon from several parts of Jamestown Island, including the bottom tip called Black Point. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
Several of Dominion’s towers for the Skiffes Creek Transmission Line can be seen along the horizon from several parts of Jamestown Island, including the bottom tip called Black Point. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

The Army Corps of Engineers has extended a public comment period regarding the Skiffes Creek Transmission Line project.

Several requests for an extension on the comment period were granted by the Corps of Engineers, moving the deadline for written comments to Sept. 3, according to a notice published by the Corps.

The Corps of Engineers is collecting public comments to assist in identifying the significant issues with the project as it prepares a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

A judge in March ordered the Corps of Engineers to prepare the impact statement for the 17-tower project, which was energized a month earlier, in February, by Dominion Energy. The federal appeals court judge ruled the power line construction permit was given outside of the law because an impact statement was not completed in advance.

The Corps of Engineers had a “public scoping” meeting on July 17 as part of the environmental impact statement process.

The final Environmental Impact Statement for the transmission line should be available for public review and additional comment around November.

Those interested in commenting before the Sept. 3 deadline can submit them to Randy Steffey, Norfolk District, Army Corps of Engineers (Attn: CENAO-WRR-S), 803 Front St., Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1096. Steffey can also be emailed at randy.l.steffey@usace.army.mil.

The 500,000-volt Skiffes Creek Transmission Line has been a controversial project for about seven years. Dominion Energy and several environmental and historical groups have debated the project’s merits in court, even after construction was complete.

Dominion said the power line is critical to preventing “rolling blackouts” on the Virginia Peninsula.

Meanwhile, preservation groups argued impacts on the environment and historical viewshed on the James River would be too damaging to the area, which is within view of Jamestown Island.

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.

After the judge’s ruling in March, a Washington, D.C. Circuit Court judge made the decision to remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for additional proceedings.

The decision was in response to Dominion’s request for a court to rehear its case in May. 

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.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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