|Two of the 17 transmission towers built across the James River|
Mere days after Dominion Energy powered up its new transmission line across the James River from Surry to Jamestown, VA, a ruling by a federal court of appeals cast the controversial infrastructure’s future in doubt.
On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion overturning the project’s key permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the grounds that the agency did not meet its obligations under the National Environmental Protection Act and directing the Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement on the 17-tower, 500-kilovolt line.
“Congress created the EIS process to provide robust information in situations precisely like this one, where, following an environmental assessment, the scope of a project’s impacts remains both uncertain and controversial,” the three-person court’s opinion, penned by Judge David S. Tatel, reads.
I would rant about how the Court is going well beyond it's expertise in deciding this. One suspects a strong anti-energy bias on the part of the largely Democrat appointed court.
Furthermore, it states: “Important questions about both the Corps’ chosen methodology and the scope of the project’s impact remain unanswered, and federal and state agencies with relevant expertise harbor serious misgivings about locating a project of this magnitude in a region of such singular importance to the nation’s history.”
The decision was the culmination of a battle that has raged since 2013, when Dominion applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to construct what became known as the Surry-Skiffes Creek-Whealton project. The plan called for the construction of not only a 500-kV line passing just south of Jamestown near Hog Island but also a switching station in James City County and a 230-kV line running down to Hampton.
The Surry-Skiffes Creek portion of the project crossing the James River proved the most controversial, requiring the construction of 17 steel-lattice towers between 127 and 296 feet in height across the waterway designated by the U.S. Congress as “America’s Founding River.”
Dominion’s application justified the project on the basis of “continued load growth” in the northern part of the Hampton Roads region, “coupled with aging infrastructure and increasingly stringent environmental requirements on emissions.”
But honestly, I find it hard to care. Hampton Roads votes in fools like this. A few years of freezing in winter and sweltering in summer without power would thin the herd.