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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

VA groups host rally against 'unchecked' data center growth

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Friday, May 31, 2024   

Virginians are coming together for a rally this Sunday to voice concerns about data center expansion.

Lawmakers, community leaders and environmental groups worry about a lack of safeguards on data center growth in Virginia. Data centers support more than 78,000 jobs and generate billions in tax revenue but the groups said they pose hidden harms to local residents.

Tim Cywinski, communications director for the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said the Prince William Gateway project is one example of the massive amounts of resources data centers use.

"It will require upwards of three gigawatts of power," Cywinski pointed out. "It means about two million homes, that's the equivalent amount of power. And powering just that one data center is more power than the entire city of Austin, for example. You can't supply that power right now in Virginia, it's impossible."

He added utility companies like Dominion Energy are building fossil fuel plants to generate the necessary electricity. Some are convinced this is what Dominion's gas-powered plant in Chesterfield will be used for. The plant has been met with widespread opposition from community members and lawmakers.

State and federal policies could align Virginia's current data center growth with its climate goals. But numerous bills introduced in the past General Assembly session to do so did not advance. Cywinski thinks the successfully passed legislation on data centers is woefully inadequate.

"What they did pass was a JLARC (Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission) study to see what the impact of data center growth is going to look like," Cywinski explained. "That's all well and good, five years ago. But we've reached the point of crisis when it comes to this issue, and a JLARC study is not enough."

At the rate data centers are growing, Dominion Energy reported the facilities will require an added 8 gigawatts of power, quadruple the output of Virginia's North Anna nuclear facility. The projects are slated to double by 2040.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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