Press Release May 26, 2020

Experts Confirm Dominion’s Transmission Line in Historic James River Not Necessary

This report provides several better paths forward that will protect our parks and this nationally significant place from unnecessary harm.

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), in partnership with independent third-party experts at Synapse Energy Economics, released a new analysis showing there are cheaper, cleaner options to supply electricity to the Hampton Roads community instead of the massive transmission line Dominion Energy built in the James River.

The transmission line runs across the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, where the English explorer took his first journey to America four hundred years ago. The transmission line also harms the scenic views in and of Colonial National Historical Park, which documents the history of America’s first permanent English settlement at Jamestown.

“Since the beginning, the National Parks Conservation Association and our allies were confident there was a better way to supply electricity to this area than this gigantic transmission line scarring the historic James River landscape,” said Joy M. Oakes, Senior Director for the National Parks Conservation Association’s Mid-Atlantic Region. “Dominion never should have built this project, which is harming nearby national parks and priceless Native American and colonial history, as well threatening important natural resources in the James River.”

This new report reveals several viable alternatives to supply reliable electricity to the region without causing undue harm to the James River landscape and nearby national parks at historic Jamestown. Options include installing utility-scale or distributed-scale batteries, installing solar PV resources across the area, as well as using strategies such as improved energy efficiency to reduce peak electricity demand in the region. Each of these resources directly align with energy policies recently adopted in Virginia to promote cleaner energy, and they are least-cost.

Since the project’s inception, Dominion has attempted to justify its massive scale and damaging effects by claiming the transmission line is the best way to supply reliable electricity to the region.

In March 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing a permit for the transmission line without first completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The court ordered the Army Corps to complete an EIS for the project. This requires the Army Corps to evaluate alternatives to Dominion’s preferred project that do not do significant damage to the cultural and natural resources of the James River landscape.

“The court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement process gives the Army Corps of Engineers a chance to right this wrong and consider cleaner, less intrusive alternatives to supply electricity to the region without harming this iconic place,” added Oakes. “This report provides several better paths forward that will protect our parks and this nationally significant place from unnecessary harm.”

“Development that causes the permanent loss of ancient archeological and cultural materials is a historical loss that we cannot afford,” said G. Anne Richardson, Chief of the Rappahannock Tribe. “Our history and culture is important and it deserves to be protected and preserved. We encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to take a hard look at this report’s findings and consider the seriousness of what Dominion is doing.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

About Synapse Energy Economics: Synapse Energy Economics is a research and consulting firm specializing in energy, economic, and environmental topics. Since its inception in 1996, Synapse has grown to become a leader in providing rigorous analysis of the electric power and natural gas sectors for public interest and governmental clients.

About the Rappahannock Tribe: The Rappahannock Tribe is a federally recognized tribe that is headquartered in Indian Neck, Virginia. The mission of the Tribe is to preserve Rappahannock culture, social structures, and political structures while educating the public on the rich contributions that Rappahannocks have made and continue to make to Virginia and the Nation.