Federal Appeals Court Denies Dominion Energy’s Request for Rehearing Vacated Permit for James River Transmission Towers Joint

Joint Statement by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Virginia

May 31, 2019 – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied Dominion Energy’s request for a rehearing regarding the court’s March 1 ruling that the permit for Dominion Energy to build a massive power line across the James River at Jamestown was issued unlawfully. The court’s March ruling vacated the permit and ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare an EIS as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In reaching today’s decision to deny a rehearing, the court restated the seriousness of the NEPA violation, chastised Dominion Energy for taking inconsistent positions during the litigation, and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings on the status of the permit while the EIS is prepared.

The Court of Appeals noted in today’s decision that Dominion had argued construction of the towers should be allowed to proceed while the request for an injunction was pending because the “towers can be removed, and any preexisting views restored completely.” Yet in Dominion’s request for rehearing following the appellate court’s March 1 decision to revoke the permit, Dominion argued that removal of the towers is not an appropriate remedy. The court noted that this behavior is “more than a little troubling,” and went on to say that “[h]ad the Corps and Dominion said all along what they say now, either the district court or this court might have enjoined tower construction.”

Paul Edmondson, interim president and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“The court’s decision underlines once again the historic significance of the James River. There are feasible alternatives to this transmission line, but there’s only one Jamestown. With vast resources at its disposal, Dominion should do the right thing by deconstructing these towers and working to provide reliable power in a way that does not come at the expense of America’s birthplace.”

Elizabeth Kostelny, CEO, Preservation Virginia:
“With our coalition and partners, we have advocated for almost six years, that the law required an Environmental Impact Statement to fully examine alternatives to preserve the integrity of America’s Founding River. Coming weeks before we honor the history-changing events that occurred at Jamestown, the Court’s decision affirms the necessity of a thorough approach.”

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