Data Centers in Maryland

Data centers are large buildings that store computers to process and store data. There are many different types of data centers, and each one specializes in storing or processing data based on who owns the facility. These large computer and cable-filled structures end up taking up vast amounts of space and using lots of energy and water. In Northern Virginia, counties like Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties have seen an exponential increase in data centers, causing a wide array of noise, air, water and energy problems. Read more on VA data centers here and download our Nature Forward data center factsheet below.

For the first time in this year’s MD General Assembly, there is legislation about data centers. The legislation in question is the Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act of 2024 (SB0474 / HB0579), which will allow data centers to get an exception to use diesel generators. These non-renewable energy sources cause detrimental health impacts such as cardiovascular disease and respiratory illnesses like asthma or lung cancer. Although the environmental community has spoken on the terrible environmental impacts this legislation will have on Marylanders, the MD Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee advanced this bill on March 7. SB474/ HB579 goes against Maryland’s climate goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. You can read our SB0474 / HB0579 testimony in our MGA24 blog.

This proposed legislation comes after Aligned Data Centers pulled out of its “Quantum Loophole” MD project after it was denied the Certificate for Public Convenience or Necessity (CPCN) by the Public Service Commission (PSC) due to its labor and climate impacts. The Quantum Loophole project is a proposed 40+ mile & 2,100+ acre hyperscale fiber cable loop connecting (existing and future) data centers in Frederick, MD, and Ashburn, VA, over the Potomac River. This project would expand on the already growing Loudoun County, VA’s data centers and spill over to Frederick, MD, as its next best location, without the careful environmental review these types of projects have on people and wildlife surrounding them.

While Nature Forward understands our world’s need for data centers, we worry about developing data centers without any environmental sustainability standards. Data centers increase greenhouse gas emissions, consume tons of water, pollute our waterways and trigger stormwater runoff. We continue to see data centers proliferate at an exponential rate across the entire nation without the careful environmental review and regulation needed. We seek to inform people about the impacts of data centers so we can find a balanced approach between our growing data needs while still meeting our pressing climate emergency goals.

(1) Join us on March 27th at 7pm on Zoom for a FREE Conservation Café about the environmental impact of DATA CENTERS. Click here to register.

Missed the CONS Cafe? No worries video is now up in our YouTube page. Click here to watch it!

(2) Send a letter to your MD state legislators urging them to PROTECT Maryland’s climate goals! Please help safeguard everyone’s health and wellbeing by telling lawmakers to VOTE NO on SB474/HB579. Click here to use the form at the end of our MDGA24 blog to send in your letter today.