Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would shut off the water supply to the National Security Agency's data collection center in Bluffdale, Utah.
The bill, H.B. 161, "prohibits cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state," and would direct state agencies to "refuse material support or assistance to any federal data collection and surveillance agency."
Proposed by Utah Republican Marc Roberts, the legislation was debated in a Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee meeting on Wednesday, and is set to go to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives early next year, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
When the NSA opened its massive data collection center in Bluffdale a year ago, the agency signed a deal for millions of gallons of local water to be used to cool the 1 million square foot building's servers, Wired reported. With Roberts' bill, the NSA wouldn't be able to sign new water deals when its current agreement ends in 2021.
The NSA came to Bluffdale after promising to act within the constitution, Roberts said Wednesday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "We all know and are aware that has been violated," he added.
The center houses super computers that require 65 megawatts of power, and to keep them all cool, they require millions of gallons of water. Bluffdale issued $3.5 million in bonds to pay for the water lines, reported The Washington Post, and the city also signed an agreement with the NSA allowing them to pay less for water than others.
Last year, the facility cost around $1.7 billion to run, and city utility records show the NSA has been making monthly minimum payments of $30,000 to Bluffdale, according to the Associated Press.
Utah lawmakers could have decided to give the bill an "unfavorable" review right there on the spot, Wired noted, which would have essentially killed the bill, but there weren't any major objections, and that's a big deal according to Nate Carlisle, a reporter with the Salt Lake Tribune.
"What's noteworthy is no one on the panel said: 'Hey, wait a minute, we can't do this,'" Carlisle told Wired. "They had some specific concerns about the language of the bill, but there was no outright opposition."