My name is Bill Wright and I live in Gainesville.
DEQ's website states its mission “is to protect and enhance the environment of Virginia in order to promote the health and well-being of the Commonwealth's citizens, residents, and visitors in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”
At no time during the discussion of your proposed variance to permit data centers to operate their noxious diesel generators during peak periods of electrical demand did I see any evidence of DEQ’s interest in protecting the health and well-being of Virginians. Your focus was strictly on how to accommodate electrical utilities and the data center industry, whose overreach and poor planning are responsible for the crisis you are trying to address.
Virginia already has a Department of Commerce and Trade to advocate for business interests. Did you conflate their mission with yours? I see nowhere in DEQ’s mission statement an obligation to enhance the profit margin of wealthy corporations.
DEQ’s minor backtracking by limiting its proposed variance to eastern Loudoun County is a feeble attempt to repackage a lousy idea. If we didn’t like your full-strength poison, we don’t want your reduced calorie version either.
Now even the data center industry has backed away from this awful idea. Citizens should have expected DEQ, rather than the Data Center Coalition, to have been the ones to recognize the “important and unresolved technical, federal regulatory, and operational challenges with this proposal”.
We can assume the data center industry’s tactical retreat is a result of the widespread public blowback and not any altruistic concern for the health of Northern Virginians. If they cared about that, they would seek more appropriate areas to ply their wares.
The cause of this crisis is poor planning and over-development, but do we intend to do anything differently? Northern Virginians may temporarily dodge this bullet, but imagine what is in store when all the data centers foolishly approved, but not yet built out, are operating. Is the proposed variance a precursor to a permanent relaxation of air quality standards?
DEQ must adhere to their mission to protect us rather than align with those whose mission is to exploit us.