“The Data Center” was a scam so blatant, so absurd, that it should never have gotten any traction at all.
That it did is a sad commentary on the intellectual and ethical emptiness of Delaware’s “Chamber of Commerce” business community, and, of course, the administration of Gov. Jack Markell. The so called “Delaware Economic Development Office,”especially, demonstrates a consistent and predictable idiocy backed up by secrecy and dishonesty.
Per usual in Delaware, the scam was assembled by various parties, including the Markell administration, the University of Delaware, and the City of Newark, before the public was given notice. Then, it was rolled out as a done deal. Thankfully, it apparently has been undone. (Note that the objection is mostly to the power plant, not to a data center as such.)
Aside from the obvious lie of saying a 278 megawatt gas-burning power plant was “auxiliary” to a data center, consider the un wisdom, or the symbolism, of a large new fossil-fuel power plant in a state so vulnerable to the effects of climate change that much of it will soon enough be under water.
Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of any state at 60 ft above sea level. (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 ft.) The mean elevation of Kent County is only 36 feet. Current measured sea level rise is around 3.4 mm per year and speeding up–it varies from place to place–and almost every new official prediction of sea level rise is higher than the last one. See “ Waters rising … Delaware going away?”
It is long past time to be shutting down the the existing combustion power plants that drive climate change and sea level rise, far less a time to be building new ones. (The total generating capacity in Delaware is on the order of 3300 megawatts.)
In the face of this, Markell has allowed investment in wind, solar, and energy efficiency to mostly come to a stop–suiting the interests of Delmarva Power–while embracing various schemes for burning more natural gas.
(All considered, it appears that the climate change impact of natural gas is at least as high as coal, because of the unburned methane emissions.)
Residents of the City of Newark, and faculty and students of the University of Delaware, came to life to oppose a scam in which the City and the administration of the U of D were deeply involved. In recent decades it has been rare to see signs of political life in Newark, but self-interest does have an energizing effect. See Newark Residents Against the Power Plant.
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club (especially Amy Roe) and the Delaware Audubon Society contributed.
But the real hero of this fight, in my opinion, is Rep. John Kowalko of Newark. Kowalko relentlessly sought accurate information from various parties so he could represent the true interests of his constituents. It doesn’t take a lot of courage for professors or environmentalists to oppose a power plant, but Kowalko, a longtime union person, took a lot of heat from any-job-at-any-cost Delaware union officials.
Kowalko, as he usually does, behaved with gumption, integrity, and right-on values. Consider the oath of office that Delaware’s Constitution prescribes for public officials:
“I, (name) , do proudly swear (or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of
(name of office) to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.” [emphasis added by Muller]
How many legislators take their oath seriously? John Kowalko is one who clearly does. (I don’t know what role has been played by Senators representing the area.)
Compare the “Data Center” fight with the fight of people around Millsboro against a giant Korean chicken-killing plant, another Markell project just as absurd and undesirable. See “ Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?” That area is represented by Gerald W. Hocker and John C. Atkins, two of the most special-interest-serving legislators in Delaware. (Atkins has been in the news recently –but not for helping his constituents!–, and Green Delaware has featured him before.)
Friday and Saturday are forecast to be Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware for ozone. Saturday is also Code Yellow for particles. Some discussion of the meaning of this is here.