We are strongly opposed to this proposed variance. If passed, it would have huge negative impacts on the environment by increasing air, water, and noise pollution and, consequently, will be harmful to the health & safety of residents. Fairfax, Louden and Prince William Counties are already home to so many data centers with more being proposed daily. The data center market in these areas is saturated and by DEQ’s own admission is overwhelming the electric grid. So the solution is NOT to add more data centers and relax standards for usage but to stop adding more data centers. If the current trend continues, our area will soon be the largest provider of data centers in the world. Such massing of data centers in one area is not only unfair to its residents due to their negative impact on quality of life, but also presents enormous problems for the power grid, and disturbingly is dangerous for our country’s national security.
The DEQ’s website states its purpose as follows:
"The Department Environmental Quality (DEQ) administers state and federal laws and regulations for air quality, water quality, water supply and land protection. In addition, other programs cover a variety of environmental activities, such as improving the ability of businesses and local governments to protect the environment and prevent pollution.”
By DEQ’s own admission, “data center operation relies on the use of large amounts of electricity from the grid . . .This proposed order and local variance would provide data centers located in three-county area a measure of relief from existing regulations and permit provisions."
Therefore, this proposed variance is in direct opposition to DEQ’s stated mission.
We are absolutely stunned that an agency created specifically to protect the environment and prevent pollution would even consider proposing a variance to relax environmental standards and controls at a time when global warming caused by human actions is creating environmental catastrophes throughout the world. What is the rationale? Such a variance is certainly NOT in the best interests of residents or the environment, so if one follows the money, it’s pretty clear who stands to benefit—the people who sell their land at hugely elevated prices and the corporations involved in building and running these behemoth data centers who will benefit financially with huge profits. So much money is being used to lobby local governments to take actions that are completely counter to what is best for residents and the environment.
We certainly hope that the DEQ staff is not being bullied into submission by wealthy data center developers who are applying political and financial pressure through our local leaders to relax much needed environmental standards.
We’ll be watching with great interest to find out what is decided and sincerely hope that reason will prevail to reject this outrageous proposal and to allow the DEQ staff to carry out its stated mission of environmental protection.
We appreciate the opportunity to express our views and to view the comments of others. Good governance cannot exist without such collaboration with residents and transparency.
Kay and Ben Cooper, residents of Fairfax County since 1973