Internet data centers are driving the resurgence of coal power

Surging energy demands from a hub of global internet traffic are precipitating a shift back to coal power, impacting communities and energy policies across four states.

Antonio Olivo reports for The Washington Post.


In short:

  • Massive data centers in Northern Virginia are causing increased demand for electricity, leading to proposals for expanding coal power usage and transmission lines.
  • This development challenges clean energy initiatives, with coal plants originally set to shut down being kept operational to meet energy demands.
  • Local residents express concerns over environmental and aesthetic impacts, feeling marginalized by decisions that favor industry needs over local well-being.

Key quote:

"It's not right. These power lines? They're not for me and my family. I didn't vote on this. And the data centers? That's not in West Virginia. That's a whole different state."

— Mary Gee, local resident

Why this matters:

Internet data centers require vast amounts of electricity to power servers, cooling systems, and other infrastructure. As more data is generated and accessed online, the energy demand of these centers skyrockets, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based power sources.

“Stop hurting us:” Protestors plead for their health outside a Pittsburgh gathering of coal and steel execs.

rapid melting thwaites glacier
Credit: Felton Davis/Flickr

New evidence shows rapid melting of Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier

Scientists have found that the glacier is melting at an alarming rate due to warm seawater intrusions.

Doyle Rice reports for USA Today.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less

Mexico City's water crisis deepens amid urban growth and climate change

A convergence of climate change, urban sprawl, and deteriorating infrastructure has intensified Mexico City's water crisis, pushing it toward a potential "Day Zero" this summer.

James Wagner, Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, and Somini Sengupta report for The New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less

Heavy rains spur mosquito surge in Houston with climate change worsening the issue

After recent heavy rains in Texas, Houston residents face a severe mosquito infestation, with climate change expected to exacerbate future outbreaks.

Matt Keyser and Dino Grandoni report for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

El Niño-triggered drought leads to severe hunger in southern Africa

A devastating drought driven by the El Niño weather pattern has led to widespread crop failure in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, resulting in severe food shortages and national emergency declarations.

Jenipher Changwanda and Freddie Clayton report for Yale Environment 360.

Keep reading...Show less

Bezos Earth Fund’s influence raises concerns among experts

Jeff Bezos's Earth Fund has donated billions to climate and nature projects, yet experts worry about the fund's influence and its support for carbon offsets.

Patrick Greenfield reports for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less

The Midwest braces for another summer of wildfire smoke

Canadian wildfires are again expected to send dangerous smoke into the U.S. Midwest, prompting states to refine their air quality alert systems.

Kristoffer Tigue reports for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
environmental justice pittsburgh

Environmental justice advocates find hope, healing and community in Pittsburgh

Advocates and researchers gathered to not only discuss ongoing fights but victories, self-care and cautious optimism about the path ahead.

air pollution pittsburgh

Amidst a controversial international sale, U.S. Steel falls behind in cleaner steelmaking

U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Nippon Steel stokes concerns over labor rights and national security, all while the company continues to break clean air laws in Western Pennsylvania.

exxon houston petrochemicals

Spanish-speaking residents feel left out of permitting process at massive Exxon petrochemical plant in Houston-area

“It is important to ensure meaningful engagement efforts are inclusive and accessible to all diverse members of our communities.”

youth climate change

"Our lives might be on the line"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

sargassum

After 13 years, no end in sight for Caribbean sargassum invasion

Thousands of people were hurt by sargassum blooms last year in the Caribbean.

youth climate change

“We should take care of what is precious to us"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.