Utah wants to tax power consumed by the NSA's massive, illegal data-processing facility

Remember the gigantic data-center that the NSA is building in Utah in order to (illegally) process the electronic communications of the whole world? Turns out that the state of Utah plans on taxing the titanic amounts of electricity it will consume at 6%. The NSA is pissed.

"We are quite concerned [about] this," Harvey Davis, NSA director of installations and logistics, wrote in the April 26 email, obtained through a Utah open records law request.

In a follow-up email Davis sent 31 minutes later, he explained: "The long and short of it is: Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5 billion construction at Camp Williams. HB325 runs counter to what we expected."

HB325, which Herbert signed into law April 1, benefits the Utah Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA). It allows the entity, which was set up to put select military properties on the public tax rolls, to collect a tax of up to 6 percent on Rocky Mountain Power electricity used by the Utah Data Center.

In surprise to NSA, Utah Data Center may pay tax on electricity [Nate Carlisle/The Salt Lake Tribune]

(via /.)

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  1. At first I was laughing at the NSA, haha suckers, you have to pay more! And then I realized that the ‘you’ in this case includes all tax payers. Doh. So good for the state of Utah, slight (probably immeasurably small) amount of bad for all tax payers in other states. Non-US readers, please do laugh, where I cannot, as our different levels of government tax each other

    1.  So if taxpayers don’t like it, why don’t they make it known to their government, that perhaps there are better ways to spend public funds than snooping on everyone’s e-mails?

      1.  Exactly.

        “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”  H.L. Mencken

      2. So if taxpayers don’t like it, why don’t they make it known to their government, that perhaps there are better ways to spend public funds than snooping on everyone’s e-mails?

        No need to. Just post it here — they’ll see it. Or email it to your spouse, etc.

        1.  I never implied commenting on Boing Boing would amount to true political activism.

          But political activism seems like a better solution than just wallowing in pessimism ;)

          1. I never implied commenting on Boing Boing would amount to true political activism.

            President Obama mentioned in a speech that Boing Boing is on a short list of places where he goes for public opinion.

          2. Poor wording on my part. Let me rephrase:

            What I meant is that IMO is far better to start looking for plausibles solutions to the things we don’t like in our political systems –& yes: participating on forums like Boing Boing *is* a good place to start– than to just pout, sigh & make ourselves used to it, since there’s nothing we can do to change things, anyway.

            Which is the farthest from the truth.

          3. President Obama mentioned in a speech that Boing Boing is on a short list of places where he goes for public opinion.

            Yes, but have you checked the logs for the White House IP address to see if he really does?

            Or maybe Obama tricks you and uses this address by proxy?

            143.228.181.132

            Hmmm…..

      1. States do this all the time to municipalities.  States tax municipalities, usually as a surcharge on property taxes, and then give some of that money back to a subset of municipalities for various programs.  And in the other direction: where some municipalities do tax states, such as for state facilities on municipality land.  Depends on the state and the municipality, whether the muni can tax state or the state has an exemption.  And throw the feds and counties into the mix, too, and you have a real big mess.  Which is what this is, a good old down-home American clusterfuck.

      2. Hmm… I wonder. I do know that in the case of road maintenance, if a local town/city does maintenance on a county or state roadway, they bill the county or state for that work. As far as property tax, here in my state, NY, apparently that answer is “Sometimes”: http://www.tax.ny.gov/research/property/valuation/sol/index.htm

      3. If you are the District of Columbia, you can’t.  They want to tax the Federal Government and also get representation, but they are lucky that Congress even allows them to have a mayor and city council.

    2.  Yup, this is a case where the buck won’t stop until it hits us.  Nice try though.

    3. They’d pay taxes on all the power they bought, but the NSA might pull a Google or an Apple and operate their own solar powered/molten salt stored/steam generated power plants and then Utah can pay them for the electricity.

      If the NSA is really smart, and they are, they’ll want to avoid any reliance on utilities vulnerable to terrorists or other forms of attack.

  2. this’ll give Holder the chance to blow the dust off of his McCulloch v Maryland “…Chief Justice Marshall also determined that Maryland may not tax the bank without violating the Constitution. The Court voided the tax on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.”

  3. If the NSA with all their computational power didn’t see this one coming, what good are they?

  4. Now that is one hell of an April Fools Joke (signed into law on 1 April 2013).

    With that proposed tax on electricity, what is to stop the NSA (and other federal consumers of electricity)  to build their own power plan on federal lands using an inherently dirty form of power generation.

    Another outcome may be the Federal Government may use their power of Eminent Domain to take over all of the nearby power companies, give electricity to themselves (6% tax on a $0.00 bill is zero), and double the price of electricity for everyone else.

  5. “The long and short of it is: Long-term stability in the utility rates
    was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5
    billion construction at Camp Williams. HB325 runs counter to what we
    expected.”

    I feel for you, man, I really do.

    Except not quite as much as I feel for the people for whom a major factor in the US being selected as the site to raise their families “long-term stability in not being a surveillance state”.

    Cause, they got screwed first. 

  6. First the NSA (No Such Agency) is just another huge waste of tax payer dollars. And…..they already knew this (Tax thing) going into it…..unless…..they are as informed as the President. :) , just waiting for another number…….

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