I am reaching out in regards to a massive data center that is being proposed by Kansas-based Quality Technology Services (QTS), one of the industry’s largest, in Fayetteville (Fayette County). The facility will reportedly span 615 acres, an area which includes mature forest. This project is backed by local government officials, who believe it will bring significant economic benefits in the form of jobs.
At what cost though? Bev, a resident of Newton County, is not happy after a Meta data center began construction near her home. It not only causes damage to the environment and destroys habitats for wild animals, but also contaminates her well water.
On top of that, there’s noise pollution and light pollution. While big companies and bigger corporations far away from the campus benefit, those in and around Fayette County will suffer, just like folks in Newton County currently.
Blackstone, the owner of QTS, is a global alternative asset manager with over $915.5 billion in total assets under management, including $678.0 billion in fee-earning assets as of March 2022.
The Fayette County Development Authority (FCDA) hired Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) to find a buyer for a 615-acre site, which is considered very large compared to the typical 200-acre site.
The FCDA had originally planned to use 182 acres, which would have saved 433 acres of forest and wetlands from destruction. However, the FCDA ended up buying, selling, annexing, and rezoning an additional 400+ acres for QTS.
Environmental devastation aside, data centers flat-out threaten the region’s drinking water as well as its natural and historic resources. They require massive amounts of energy too, and building them in rural areas will lead to the construction of substations and transmission lines. The list of negative impacts for the community is truly endless.
Three hours south sits the city of Adel, a community that recently reached a settlement agreement with Spectrum Energy in the operation of a proposed wood pellet plant. All forms of forest destruction are bad for biodiversity, the climate and water quality. And industrial logging is on the rise in the region thanks in part to the biomass industry.
This global environmental issue goes beyond Fayetteville. But change is possible. The community, via FayettevilleDataCenters@gmail.com, is urging folks to spread the word and halt this environmentally unjust project from continuing. One small step at a time, the Earth can still be saved. But it’s now or never. Things are only getting worse.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dogwood Alliance, based in Asheville, N.C., on its website says it “advances environmental justice and climate action by mobilizing diverse voices to protect Southern forests and communities from industrial logging.” Also in its “About Us” section on its site is this statement: “We must take a serious look at past injustice, especially centuries of systemic racism against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. We can’t make meaningful progress on climate change without addressing the injustices that have plagued BIPOC communities in the South.”]