• Legal Briefs Filed to Protect the James River

    December 18, 2017

    On Friday, the National Trust and our partners at Preservation Virginia filed a motion for summary judgment in our lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The motion asked the court to vacate the permit that the agency granted to Dominion Virginia Power to construct a massive transmission line across the James River at Jamestown and to order the Army Corps to prepare a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to thoroughly review less harmful alternatives.

    The Mattaponi Indian Tribe in Virginia filed an amicus brief in support of the National Trust’s lawsuit. The tribe is one of the six original Native American tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy. Represented by the University of Virginia School of Law’s Environmental and Regulatory Clinic, the brief focuses on the cultural importance of the region to the tribe.

    A briefing schedule for the case has been established with final filing deadlines in March 2018. We will keep sharing new information as the lawsuit progresses.

  • Injunction Denied in James River Court Case

    October 23, 2017

    photo by: James River Association

    On Friday, we received disappointing news for the James River.

    In August of this year the National Trust joined with Preservation Virginia to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the agency granted Dominion Virginia Power a permit to construct a massive transmission line across the James River at Jamestown. The permit was granted without preparing a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to thoroughly review less harmful alternatives. The National Trust asked the court to revoke the permit and to issue an injunction to stop construction while the case is pending.

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has denied our injunction request. This allows construction on the tower foundations to begin while the case is pending. The Court specifically invited the parties to re-apply for an injunction if construction moves beyond the foundations before a final decision is reached.

    Sharee Williamson—associate general counsel at the National Trust—said, “The court’s decision not to halt construction is a setback in our efforts to protect the James River and its nationally significant history, but the court’s ruling leaves us optimistic about our chances for ultimate success. While construction may proceed for now, our efforts to protect this important place will continue.”

    We will keep sharing new information as the lawsuit progresses.

  • UPDATE: A Setback at the James River

    July 7, 2017

    photo by: Kris Weinhold

    Today, we found out disappointing news: the Army Corps of Engineers has granted Dominion Virginia Power a federal permit to construct approximately four miles of power lines and 17 transmission towers across the James River at Jamestown, which will dramatically alter this cherished historic landscape, Colonial National Historical Park, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

    Sharee Williamson, associate general counsel here at the National Trust says, “We are disappointed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant a permit for this project to build a massive transmission line across the James River at Jamestown...[However] the permitting process for Dominion’s proposal at the local level is not over. We are exploring our options and will continue to fight for the preservation of America’s Founding River.”

    While this decision is a setback, we are no less determined to stop Dominion’s plans to degrade the historic landscape of the James River at Jamestown.

    Update

    On August 3, 2017, we joined with Preservation Virginia to file a lawsuit to ensure that legal, proper and reasonable steps are taken to protect this iconic place in American history. The Army Corps of Engineers granted Dominion’s permit without preparing a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would include a thorough review of reasonable alternatives, and a transparent public process and comment period.

    In support of the lawsuit’s filing, National Trust President and CEO Stephanie Meeks said, “ We know, and engineering experts have independently verified, viable alternatives exist that would meet the region’s power needs and protect this jewel of Virginian and American history.”

    We will share new information as the lawsuit progresses.

  • Report Identifies Alternatives to Power Lines Across the James River

    February 14, 2017

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation commissioned an independent engineering firm to complete a comprehensive study that identified four alternatives to Dominion’s preferred project across the James River at Jamestown. These experts determined that the alternatives would satisfy the area’s electrical needs and meet all relevant federal reliability standards, while also costing less and taking less time to build than Dominion’s proposal. The firm also concluded that these four alternatives are not an exhaustive list.

    Dominion’s project proposes constructing a 500kV transmission line across the James River from Surry to Skiffes Creek. It also requires construction of a new Skiffes Creek substation and smaller 230kV powerline from Skiffes Creek to Whealton.

    Read the full NTHP-TCR Alternatives Report here.

  • Ask Virginia Senators to Save the James!

    December 14, 2016

    Since 2013 when the James River was first listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Trust has been actively working to encourage Dominion Virginia Power to pursue an alternative to building a 500 kV overhead transmission line across the river near historic Jamestown. The transmission line project proposed by Dominion would be visible from Jamestown Island, Colonial Parkway, National Historic Landmark Carter’s Grove plantation and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

    The National Trust and our partner organizations have repeatedly requested that alternative projects be identified that could both meet Virginia’s energy needs and save the historic landscape of the James River. With that goal in mind, the National Trust recently hired an independent engineering firm that identified several potential alternatives to Dominion’s proposal.

    The engineering firm developed four alternative projects that would avoid the need to construct an overhead 500KV transmission line across the James River. Each of these alternatives would cost less to construct, can be built more quickly, meets all relevant reliability standards, satisfies the energy needs in the region, and protects the historic landscape and resources along the James River. Details about the alternatives are available here.

    Dominion’s project proposes constructing a 500kV transmission line across the James River from Surry to Skiffes Creek. It also requires construction of a new Skiffes Creek substation and smaller 230kV power line from Skiffes Creek to Whealton.

    The National Trust has provided this new information on alternatives to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency reviewing Dominion’s request for a federal permit for this project. This information on alternatives could be used to support a decision to deny the permit for this project. At the very least, the Army Corps should fully review these new alternatives through preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement. A close look at alternatives is required by federal law and the James River deserves nothing less.

    We’re asking Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to call on the Army Corps to deny the federal permit. Please contact them today.

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