The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Virginia are suing the Army Corps of Engineers, challenging its recent decision to grant a permit for Dominion Energy to build a high-voltage transmission line across the James River between Surry County and Skiffes Creek in James City County.
As with a separate suit filed last month by the National Parks Conservation Association, the preservation groups want the U.S. District Court in Washington to order a more extensive review of the project by the Corps.
They said the Corps should have prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement, which, under the the National Environmental Policy Act, would have included what they argue would be a more thorough review of reasonable alternatives, and a transparent public process and comment period than the Corps did.
"We believe that a full and complete examination of alternatives will ensure that these irreplaceable historic, cultural and scenic resources are preserved," said Elizabeth S. Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia.
Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust, said the transmission line across the James River is not necessary and that independent experts have said there are other alternatives.
"This project is poorly conceived and will severely degrade the history, economy and legacy of the Historic Triangle region," she said.
The State Corporation Commission and the Corps have held that other alternatives are either not technically feasible, or would boost rate-payers bills unreasonably higher or would impact more historic sites and wetlands than the James River crossing.
Although Dominion is not a party to the lawsuit, spokeswoman Bonita Billingsley Harris said the transmission line "has been one of the most heavily scrutinized infrastructure projects in the history of Virginia," adding that delaying construction puts the Peninsula at risk of blackouts.
Ress can be reached by phone at 757-247-4535.