On March 1, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps’) permit allowing Dominion to build a 500 kV transmission line without requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was arbitrary and capricious. The transmission line, which was energized on February 26, 2019, crosses the James River and “cut[s] through the middle of the historic district” in Jamestown, Virginia. It is also located in “close proximity” to Carter’s Grove, a National Historic Landmark. In 2017, after a four-year process, the Corps issued an Environmental Assessment that found the project would have “no significant impact” as defined under the National Environmental Policy Act. Several groups (Petitioners) challenged the Corps’ decision to issue the permit, arguing that the Corps failed to satisfy obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
The Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel (comprised of Judges Garland, Millett, and Tatel) remanded the case to the district court with instructions to vacate Dominion’s permit and to direct the Corps to prepare an EIS.