top of page

Generators, Power Lines and Frack-Outs

In this newsletter:

-More Quantum Loophole Frack-Outs

-Data Centers Workgroup Report

-Filings for Piecemeal Zoning 

-Next Livable Frederick Area Plans and Elements

-Sugarloaf Alliance MPIA Appeal

-Diesel Generators for Data Centers and the Building Energy Performance Standards Amendment

-More Power Transmission Lines Across Frederick County


County-Level Updates


-More Quantum Loophole Frack-Outs: Quantum Loophole is tunneling to install the “QLoop” - "a massive 40± mile hyperscale fiber ring connecting Quantum Loophole’s 2,100+ acre Quantum Frederick data center development in Maryland to Northern Virginia’s Data Center Alley”  The QLoop crosses the Monocacy, the Potomac, and feeder creeks and wetlands. Frederick County has issued another stop-work order because drilling material again broke through ground near Mouth of the Monocacy, again posing environmental and health hazards (see the report attached below). (Read the Frederick News Post article about this recent frack-out here. Read the FNP article about last year’s violations here.) Despite their assurances to the contrary, Quantum Loophole and its contractors continue the appearance of disregard for environmental safety in pursuit of their project goals. Sugarloaf Alliance is concerned that dates appearing on various inspection and announcement documents don’t align, implying that public information was delayed (until after the state legislative session - and a big data center vote - was concluded?). We’re checking.


-Data Centers Workgroup Report

The Frederick County Data Centers Workgroup (DCWG) released its final report on March 1 (read the text here). Generally speaking, the recommendations agree with Sugarloaf Alliance positions, including the recommendation that data centers not be sited in Treasured Landscapes, and the report specifically mentions Sugarloaf Mountain. Read the Frederick News Post report here. The report is in the hands of the County Executive, and her administration is expected to make recommendations for legislation governing data centers in Frederick County. We still don’t have information about legislation or timing.

-Filings for Piecemeal Rezoning

As part of the announcement of the Data Centers Workgroup last summer, the County Executive placed a nine-month pause on piecemeal rezoning in areas where data centers are currently permitted. This executive order has now expired. Sugarloaf Alliance is concerned because - should the county be willing to stretch rules and allow piecemeal rezoning for more data centers in the general Eastalco area - precedent could be set for piecemeal rezoning in the Sugarloaf area. 


-Next Livable Frederick Area Plans and Elements

You’ll remember that the Sugarloaf Plan was just the first small area plan to be considered under the Livable Frederick Master Plan (LFMP). The County Council has just passed the South Frederick Corridors Plan.  Kimberly Gaines, Livable Frederick Director, tells us that they also are working on the Water Resources Element of LFMP (primarily addressing the County owned and operated water and wastewater systems) and that will be followed by the Green Infrastructure Plan. Both clearly are relevant to Sugarloaf preservation as well as data center sitings and approvals. Ms. Gaines goes on to say that they intend "to initiate a plan with Economic Development to look at potentially expanding areas for employment uses.” We’ll all be keeping an eye on THAT.

-Sugarloaf Alliance MPIA Appeal

Background: As the Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay were under consideration by the county Planning Commission and County Council these past couple of years, Sugarloaf Alliance devoted its energies largely to researching and sharing information in support of environmental preservation in the Sugarloaf area. In part, we worked under Maryland’s Public Information Act (MPIA), which is designed to ensure that the public has access to government records (with some reasonable exclusions). Sugarloaf Alliance filed very specific MPIA requests with Frederick County, the City of Brunswick, and the state of Maryland, seeking emails and documentation that relate to the secret Amazon meetings and the Plan boundary, content and decision-making. The county resisted; we filed suit. The suit resulted in the 800+ page document release to Sugarloaf Alliance, which included the CDI (data center) floating zone map created by the county to illustrate where data centers might be located, including areas within what is now the Sugarloaf Plan boundary. Despite the fact that we substantially prevailed, the judge awarded us less than half of legal fees, essentially saying, well, it’s taxpayer money. We appealed, because a) the MPIA law exists to facilitate access to government information (it’s always taxpayer money), and b) if finding out what our government is doing costs residents tens of thousands of dollars, then public access to the public’s business is limited and inequitable.

Update: The Public Justice Center is handling our appeal; that process is ongoing. We expect a decision this coming fall.


State-Level Updates

-Diesel Generators for Data Centers

Sorry to say, the Maryland legislature enthusiastically supported the Governor’s bill to allow data center developers to install their many and massive diesel generators without environmental oversight from the Public Service Commission. Read coverage here and here and here. Adding insult to injury, there was a last-minute backroom deal that undermines the Building Energy Performance Standards in development by the Maryland Dept. of the Environment, in support of the Maryland Climate Solutions Now Act goals to reduce GHG levels. Data center buildings are intensive energy gobblers, and the aim is to become more intensive, not less. We look forward to working with our partner environmental organizations to address these and other related issues in preparation for next year’s legislative session.

-More Power Transmission Lines Across Frederick County

Power has become a concern in the rush to develop data centers. Quantum Loophole, at full buildout, would consume as much power as 400,000 new homes. That’s twelve times as much as Frederick; four times as much as Baltimore. Where will that power come from? New transmission lines will be required, because current capacity is insufficient. Already, Northern Virginia’s power supplies are insufficient for that area’s sprawling data center development. New power lines are planned to cross Maryland - including Frederick County’s Sugarloaf treasured landscape - in order to increase power available for the Quantum Loophole data centers, but primarily for Loudoun County, Virginia. If you’ve lived in the Sugarloaf area for awhile, you’ll remember the PATH fights, with a transmission line route straight through the Sugarloaf Plan area. Get ready for deja vu all over again.

bottom of page