December 23, 2016
Colonel Jason Kelly
US Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Norfolk District
803 Front Street
Norfolk VA 23510-1096
RE: Proposed Dominion Surry-Skiffes Creek-Whealton Transmission Line Project
Dear Colonel Kelly:
This follows up on our January 26, 2016, letter opposing Dominion Virginia Power’s (Dominion) proposed Surry-Skiffes Creek-Whealton project. Based upon credible new evidence, at least four viable alternatives exist to Dominion’s ill-conceived proposal. There is no compelling need to construct high transmission towers across the James River in close proximity to Jamestown Island – a unit of the U.S. National Park System and arguably one of America’s most historically significant sites. The Army Corps of Engineers must not allow this project to go forward without requiring Dominion, at a minimum, to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) exploring these alternatives. The Corps owes this to this and future generations of Americans to protect the place where “America Began”.
For years, Dominion Virginia Power has maintained that overhead transmission lines located at Jamestown Island are the only feasible alternative and continually raises the specter of rolling blackouts in the Hampton Roads region if the Corps does not accede to Dominion demands and approve a permit. Credible studies now show this not to be true. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently contracted an engineering analysis by a nationally-respected energy consulting firm evaluating the identical data submitted to the federal government by Dominion itself. The consultant’s report identified four alternatives that, in fact, have lower costs, shorter timeframes for construction, and minimal impacts on the historic and scenic integrity of this internationally-prominent area. It proves that Dominion’s purpose can be achieved without damaging one of this nation’s most historically significant places. A “Win / Win” is possible.
Each year more than three million American citizens visit Jamestown Island, the Colonial Parkway and Yorktown, Virginia. Visitors come from all over the world to learn about the first permanent English settlement in North America and the birthplace of our nation’s democracy. During that visit they also enjoy exceptional scenic views of the James River that look little changed since Captain John Smith sailed up the river more than 400 years ago. Do not approve a proposal that would mar that scene with 44 transmission towers covered with red blinking lights – some towers as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
Do not be swayed by Dominion’s unyielding position about the lack of transmission alternatives, its refusal to make public data that bears on the feasibility of other alternatives and by the specter of rolling blackouts. Other credible and viable alternatives exist. The National Trust’s sponsored study proves this. Require that Dominion analyze the alternative solutions without further delay. Don’t let Dominion degrade the Old Dominion. Ensure that future generations of Americans visiting Jamestown Island experience what we see today – unchanged and undamaged. We owe it to them.
Maureen Finnerty, Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Lt. General Todd Semonite, Commanding General, Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20314-1000
Jonathan Jarvis, Director, National Park Service
Theresa Pierno, National Parks Conservation Association
Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Department of Defense
Dorothy Canter, Dorothy Canter Consulting
Sharee Williamson, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Pam Goddard, National Parks Conservation Association
Washington Post, Peggy McGlone
Washington Post, Philip Kennicott
Coalition, Mike Murray
Coalition, Doug Morris