Tell Congress: Support the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act

Despite the growing importance and presence of data centers in American life, Congress has yet to pass any comprehensive federal legislation to address how data centers, the backbone of the cloud, impact our physical world.

large boxy data center with cooling equipment on the roof
A data center in Ashburn, VA. Credit Hugh Kenny/PEC

Data centers have a staggering impact on our communities and the environment. These buildings consume massive amounts of energy 24/7, and that demand is already threatening the reliability of our electric grid infrastructure in many parts of the country. Meeting this growing demand also makes averting the worst of climate change more difficult by spurring new fossil fuel generation. In addition to energy, these buildings can require large quantities of fresh water for cooling to keep servers up and running.

In Northern Virginia, for example, the world’s highest concentration of data centers is still growing and sending shockwaves across the state. The industry is now the main culprit spurring costly new transmission line projects, delays in the retirement of coal power facilities, new natural gas plants, and derailment of state decarbonization goals.

The human and environmental costs of the data center industry are only predicted to worsen with the rise of cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence applications. That’s why we’re supporting a new congressional bill, the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act of 2024, directing various government agencies to conduct a comprehensive study on AI’s environmental impacts, identify standards needed to measure those impacts, and create a voluntary framework for AI developers to report the full range of their environmental impacts.

Please support the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act, introduced by Sen. Markey, Sen. Heinrich, Rep. Eshoo, and Rep. Beyer, to demand greater transparency of the data center industry and its environmental footprint by writing your elected officials today.

Our government needs to do much more to regulate this growing industry – a federal study is just the beginning of what’s urgently needed, but would mark a significant first step in collecting the information our government needs to identify ways we can mitigate data center’s effects on our air, land, water and climate. Read more about data center impacts at →