© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Some lawmakers want to limit data center spread

In this Dec. 20, 2018 photo computers at Chemical Abstracts Service store data.
Julie Carr Smyth
In this Dec. 20, 2018 photo computers at Chemical Abstracts Service store data.

Loudoun County is known throughout the world for its concentration of data centers, although several lawmakers are trying to prevent them from spreading out into new areas.

Senator Chap Petersen is a Democrat from Fairfax City who says he's concerned about a data center proposal that would be right next to a Civil War battlefield, which he says would be a huge mistake.

"A lot of local governments in northern Virginia – they look at data centers as local governments downstate look at casinos," Petersen says. "They're like 'Oh it's free money.' It's not free, OK? I've been in this business a quarter century. Nothing’s free."

Tax revenue from the data centers offers a promise of money for schools and services. But Delegate Danica Roem, a Democrat from Prince William County, says it's time to tap the brakes on the spread of data centers in northern Virginia.

"How often do we have to raise our agricultural land and our wooded area and then basically kill off the animals that are living there because we want to make a whole lot of money," Roem asks. "Especially money really short term that we know the value of these data centers will depreciate over time."

Petersen and Roem have both introduced a number of bills to make new requirements on data centers, forcing improvements to stormwater runoff and making sure there's some kind of a distance from Civil War battlefields.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.