Interesting interview with VA State Senator-elect Danica Roem yesterday on Kojo Nnamdi’s/WAMU’s “The Politics Hour,” which among other things discussed the hot topic of data centers in Prince William County. See below for the audio and a few quotes from Senator-elect Roem.
- “I have significant concerns with the Prince William Digital Gateway, I’ve opposed it the entire way from its conception…one woman…you could see data centers under construction right now…and she’s just like…when we were complaining about…particles in the air…’they came over and they gave us a fruit basket as I’m sorry for the disturbance’…She did not take that well.“
- “Right now the planning staff just again has said no to this and that they are recommending denial for all three applications for this project here, that would be about what, 2 miles or 3 miles north to south and then the opposite number east to west. This is like, what, four times size of the Pentagon…this is a big deal…and the Planning Commission voted against it… under any normal circumstance something that is not ready for prime time like this should be deferred…There’s no way that I think anyone can justify this being ready for prime time.”
- “And by the way, when I hear the argument that comes back to me of this is a local land use issue, Danica, the state government needs to stay out of it, I fundamentally disagree with that for a number of reasons…This is going to have an adverse impact on Conway Robinson Memorial State Forest in terms of the environment. This is an issue that comes into the need for more transmission line infrastructure that would have to be constructed. Dominion has already told me this will require a 500 KV line…”
- “So number one, I oppose the existence of all data centers in western Prince County – period. And the ones that are there currently need to be taxed to match Loudoun, if not exceed it, and if someone wants to pack up and leave because, oh no their data center tax is too much, I will personally put a big yellow ribbon around it and ship it to Tazewell County where they’re happy to have it...I’m going to be putting forward at least five if not six piece of legislation this year that’s meant to curb data center sprawl in Northern Virginia here but specifically designed for western Prince William. You have to look at the idea that more above-ground transmission lines in this corridor…These data center projects can consume as much energy as an entire city. This is a huge deal. And when you’re dealing with that, that means that you’re also going to be putting a big stress on…Dominion’s infrastructure capacity and the fact that they are still tapping into non-renewable resources for energy…So you put all that together and what happens the state absolutely has an interest.“
- “In my six years in the House of Delegates, we’ve now passed 41 of my bills into law…All 41 of them earned bipartisan support. This Republican governor signed 18 of my Democratic bills into law. I am good at my job. I know what I’m doing with this sort of stuff. At the same time, here’s just the politics on this. Look, Dominion Energy spent $10,000 against me in just the runup to the election trying to unseat me – they lost. Governor Youngkin spent half a million the week before the election against me – he lost. He spent $788,000 against me, which was more money than the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus actually spent for me in this election. So when it comes to dealing with the land use issue when it comes to dealing with the data center issue, I will point anyone to the vote that came out of Heritage Hunt: how did I go from losing Heritage Hunt by nearly 16 points in my winning campaign in 2017, which is the highest turnout [recinct in Prince William County at two-thirds turnout in an off off off-year election to now winning it by 37 votes? It’s because I was was correct on this issue and that I’ve led from the front on this. And if you get land use wrong, Heritage Hunt will revolt against you.”
- “What’s really interesting is the idea that the last time we had Democratic majorities in both Chambers, we also had a Democratic governor, and so the Republicans were just kind of on the sidelines at that point. And some of the divisions we ended up having within the party, we didn’t have like a common person who was basically…on the other side on this. And so now where you have lines that are a little bit more clear, I think it’s going to be a lot easier for House Democrats and Senate Democrats to not always but to more or less be on the same page in terms of what legislation are we going to put on the governor’s desk. At the same time, people like me are like, look, if the governor wants to work with our Democratic majorities to fix roads and feed kids, which were the staple items for my campaign or even something that’s a much more niche issue that I work on, like adult guardianship reform, that’s a really big deal, that’s nonpartisan issue where when the system fails, people die because of it – you want to work with me on these issues, by all means please come to the table. You want to attack trans kids in my district? Then no, your legislation is going to be dead on arrival and it will not pass.”