HB 1986 (Roem), as introduced, would have required more stringent stormwater management practices to be undertaken for land disturbances regarding the operation or construction of data centers across the Commonwealth within a certain distance from protected lands. During the House Commerce and Energy Committee’s Subcommittee #4 meeting, HB 1986 was amended to include a more limited approach to where these stormwater regulations would need to be undertaken. VACo spoke in opposition, noting that it identified a particular land use category to comply with a more onerous standard, to effectively hamstring local land use authority. The bill was laid on the table in subcommittee by a 6-1 vote.
SB 1078 (Peterson) takes a more direct approach in limiting local land use authority. Specifically, the bill prohibits the location of a data center within one mile of a national park or state park or other historically significant site, as designated by the Department of Historic Resources. SB 1078 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee so that it could be heard in conjunction with SJ 240 (Peterson), which directs the Virginia Department of Energy to study the impacts of data center development on Virginia’s environment, economy, energy resources, and ability to meet carbon-reduction goals. VACo opposes SB 1078.