The Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public meeting to discuss the scope of an upcoming environmental study on the Surry-Skiffes Creek power line Wednesday evening at the DoubleTree by Hilton Williamsburg.
The Corps will prepare a court-ordered environmental impact statement to further study the environmental effects of Dominion Energy’s Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line, which runs from Surry County to Skiffes Creek in James City County.
As Dominion sees things, the Corps has already done its due diligence in analyzing the project’s potential effects on nearby environmental and historical resources. But Dominion intends to cooperate in the environmental impact statement process, spokeswoman Bonita Harris said.
“The Corps is trying to get as much information as possible with a focus on information that it didn’t get in the environmental assessment,” Harris said. “We’re committed to making sure this process is successful and will do everything we can to provide the Army Corps of Engineers with the information necessary to conduct an accurate and timely environmental impact statement.”
Dominion officials expect to attend the public meeting to help answer questions residents may have about the project, Harris said.
A Corps spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The National Environmental Policy Act requires a federal agency to conduct an environmental impact statement for proposed major construction projects unless the agency finds there will be no significant impact.
The Corps didn’t do an environmental impact statement when it awarded Dominion a permit to construct the transmission line. A federal circuit court judge ruled March 1 that was an error, saying the Corps’ decision to provide the permit without fully studying the project’s effects was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law.”
Though the court ruling revoked the permit, the judge didn’t offer any ideas what to do with the transmission line. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied Dominion’s request for a rehearing May 31.
Now, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will consider whether the permit can stay in place during the environmental impact statement process. Harris said a decision on the permit status isn’t expected until the fall at the earliest.
Dominion maintains the transmission line should remain in operation during the upcoming study. The latest estimated cost of the project is $435 million, Harris said.
Dominion officials have said the transmission line is vital to provide electricity to 600,000 customers on the Peninsula. Preservation and environmental groups have fought against the project for years, saying it threatens the area’s natural resources and historical sites, such as the James River and Historic Jamestowne.
“It’s our hope that the Army Corps of Engineers comes to the meeting ready to listen to park advocates and members of the James River community,” said Pam Goddard, senior program director, mid-Atlantic region for National Parks Conservation Association, in a statement. “The EIS must analyze the scars the irresponsible Skiffes River transmission line project already is leaving on the James River landscape and ecosystems.”
Want to go?
When: 5-8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Doubletree by Hilton Williamsburg, 50 Kingsmill Road.
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, email@example.com, @jajacobs_