February 5, 2016

The Honorable Terry G. Kilgore
Virginia House of Delegates
General Assembly Building, Room 704
Capital Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219

RE: Support HB 908: Electrical Transmission Lines; Minimize Effects on Historic Resources

Dear Del. Kilgore,

The undersigned organizations are writing to request your support of legislation, HB 908, introduced by Delegate Randy Minchew, which will better protect the Commonwealth’s scenic, historic and environmental resources when the State Corporation Commission (SCC) makes decisions regarding transmission lines.
The goal of HB 908 is to require the SCC to determine that a proposed transmission line will avoid adverse impacts on scenic, historic and environmental resources unless it is unreasonable to do so. Currently, the SCC is only required to determine that a line will reasonably minimize the adverse impacts. This legislation would require the project applicant to demonstrate that it made reasonable efforts to avoid rather than just minimize the adverse impacts, and would provide the SCC with the authority to ensure that this two step review process occurs.

The need for this bill to protect Virginia’s treasured resources is very clear. As you may know, the SCC approved a transmission line crossing a historically significant section of the James River. If built, the line will permanently damage Colonial National Historical Park, National Historic Landmark Carter’s Grove and the landscape of this iconic stretch of the James River.  The line will also bisect the keystone portion of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, the nation’s first congressionally designated water trail. Unfortunately, this legislation comes too late to give state law protection to these resources. However, it may discourage similar projects in the future.

To ensure that Virginia’s historic, scenic and environmental resources are protected for future generations and remain an economic driver for tourism in the state, Virginia state law must be strengthened. We believe HB 908 achieves this goal and respectfully ask for your support of Del. Minchew’s legislation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

Elizabeth Kostelny 
CEO
Preservation Virginia
Jeanette R. Cadwallender
President
Garden Club of Virginia
Leighton Powell
Executive Director
Scenic Virginia
Maureen Finnerty
Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s NationalParks
Christopher G. Miller
President
Piedmont Environmental Council
Joy M. Oakes
Senior Regional Director
National Parks Conservation Association
Joel Dunn
President & CEO
Chesapeake Conservancy
James Brunkow
Lower James Riverkeeper
James River Association
Michael Tow
Executive Director
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
David J. Brown
Exec. Vice President & Chief Preservation Officer
National Trust for Historic Preservation