Not Only Will The NSA Store All Our Data In Bluffdale, Utah, Now They'll Get A Tax Break On Their Electricity Too

from the uh,-wait-a-second dept

By now, I assume many of you are quite familiar with the NSA's new data center in Bluffdale, Utah. Among other features, part of the site's claim to fame was the amount of electricity it would need -- leading local power company Rocky Mountain Power to build the NSA their very own substation -- just for the center. Lucky them. Of course, power doesn't come cheap, and James Bamford's article about the center estimated the energy costs to be around $40 million per year. However, that cost went up a bit due to a Utah state law that came into effect on April 1st (no, seriously) that would add a 6% tax on energy bills. That means, if the $40 million estimate was correct, it would be an additional $2.4 million per year for the NSA.

And the NSA threw a complete hissy fit, sending a series of complaints to Utah Governor Gary Herbert's staff about the law
"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."
The NSA also claimed that former governor John Huntsmann had promised them that there would be no tax increases on the facility for the first six years. Utah officials insisted that they had been quite clear all along about the possible impact of this bill, but the NSA apparently didn't pay attention. But, of course, this is the NSA, and what the NSA wants... the NSA gets. The Utah Military Installation Development Authority (who helped create this tax) claims that it didn't know about this mysterious "promise" of no tax increases for six years:
It knows now, according to Rick Mayfield, director of MIDA, who announced yesterday that an attorney from MIDA was negotiating with one from NSA to write an amendment exempting the datacenter from the increased power tax. It isn’t clear if the exemption would be for six years or be permanent. The Utah Legislature would vote on the bill when it comes back into session in January. “What we didn’t understand was the prior administration made a promise that for six years there wouldn’t be an increase,”
So, not only do the NSA get to keep spying on us, but they get to do it for tax breaks.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Quick, someone fetch the world's smallest violin

    So the NSA got screwed over by a law that they didn't see coming...

    Mmmmm, karma.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

      Re: Quick, someone fetch the world's smallest violin

      Except they didn't. They are getting a special little exemption written in just for them.

       

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      Ninja (profile), Aug 6th, 2013 @ 3:44am

      Re: Quick, someone fetch the world's smallest violin

      LMAO epic win! The first thing I thought reading NSA whining was that we needed a violin background music. Have my +funny dear sir!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    This is why states and local governments shouldn't promise a business anything for moving there. That $2.4 million has to be made up for SOMEWHERE in Utah, so some other Utah Tax payers will be screwed over by the state giving the NSA a tax break.

    This kind of 'if you move your business here I won't raise your taxes for 6 years' stuff isn't just creation, it's just job relocation.

    And really, after the 6 or however many years the no tax hikes or other 'bribes' last, what's to stop the business from moving somewhere else willing to 'bribe' them through a new no taxes/tax hike promise and other bribes?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      Crap, I met to say 'isn't Job Creation' not 'isn't just creation'.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

      Re:

      "That $2.4 million has to be made up for SOMEWHERE in Utah"

      How do you figure? This is an increase. It's not lost revenue that was previously being received and now suddenly has to be made up for somewhere else. It just means the increase is smaller in terms of total revenue than previously thought.

       

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        Greg (profile), Aug 6th, 2013 @ 5:38am

        Re: Re:

        The loss of this income is not necessarily made up for by increasing taxes somewhere else. It could be made up for by reducing services that this money could have supplied to the people of Utah. "I pay more" or "I pay the same and get less" is still a loss to them no matter how you cut it.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Mr Davis,

    You didn't get what you "expected", huh? Well, the people EXPECT there government to abide by the Constitution not violate it then lie about it when they are caught. The purpose of your facility runs counter to what the people expected. Naturally we are also quite concerned about this.

     

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      The Real Michael, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

      Re:

      I wonder, if I threw a hissy fit about utility costs whether I'd get a nice tax break too.

      Double-irony: NSA gets perks while appropriating public funds to create a massive agency to spy on and profile us.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:59pm

        Re: Re:

        They should have told them "If you can't afford the power, then don't open it, we will buy it at fair price of 10% of the production cost and then we can lease it out to Amazon."

         

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          The Real Michael, Aug 6th, 2013 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Isn't there a power source that can be bought for a cool $100,000 which can generate electricity on its own? I heard awhile back about how they were selling something like that to big businesses.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Promises

    "former governor John Huntsmann had promised them that there would be no tax increases on the facility for the first six years."

    He does not have the authority to make that promise. Tax rates are determined by the legislative branch. Future legislatures and governors should not be bound by informal promises made by previous governors on something as basic as taxes.

    Lots of politicians make promises like "no new taxes" and vote for tax increases anyway. That's fine if it affects normal folks, but not if it affects the NSA, I guess.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    MIDA?

    "The Utah Military Installation Development Authority"

    Why does Utah even HAVE such an organization? Shouldn't military installations be funded by the military? And why is it funded from an electricity tax, of all things?

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    As the NSA is tax-funded, this is zero-sum.

    As any economist would know instead of hyping.

    Sure, it's not going to the utility, but discussing as if somehow burdening taxpayers overall, that's just silly.

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

     

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      RD, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

      Re: As the NSA is tax-funded, this is zero-sum.

      Start your own fucking blog then if you don't like how topics are presented here.

       

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        Pragmatic, Aug 6th, 2013 @ 5:35am

        Re: Re: As the NSA is tax-funded, this is zero-sum.

        She did, RD, but no one pays attention to her there so she's trying to get some over here. Don't give her any.

         

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      John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

      Re: As the NSA is tax-funded, this is zero-sum.

      The NSA is funded by federal taxes. The tax break is not for federal taxes. So it's not zero-sum in the way you mean.

       

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    RD, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Not Possible

    "Utah officials insisted that they had been quite clear all along about the possible impact of this bill, but the NSA apparently didn't pay attention."

    How is this possible? They have EVERY phone call, email and communication passing through the US for the last DECADE. They can NEVER claim again that they "didn't know" about anything, especially something that directly relates to them.

     

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      Arthur Moore (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

      Re: Not Possible

      Ahh, but no one knew to look for it. That's why the NSA doesn't consider it a "search." It's also why these programs are of no use when it comes to stopping terrorist attacks.

       

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        RD, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Re: Not Possible

        "Ahh, but no one knew to look for it. That's why the NSA doesn't consider it a "search." It's also why these programs are of no use when it comes to stopping terrorist attacks."

        They can't have it both ways. Either collecting ALL information leads to relevant (and timely) results and interventions, or it shouldn't be done.

         

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      Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 6th, 2013 @ 2:34am

      Re: Seriously???

      The NSA also said they were not collecting data on American citizens.

      How is it possible that this surprises you???

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Give us a tax break or someone might have to let slip some of those little secrets you've been keeping...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 4:35pm

    I hope a squirrel causes a massive power surge at that place.

     

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    Anonymous, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 6:21pm

    It will be a real beehive of activity.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 6:39pm

    So an administration promised you something and didn't deliver?
    Welcome to how the rest of us get treated.

     

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    Michael Price, Aug 26th, 2013 @ 4:54am

    Why the HELL would this matter? I mean the NSA can simply ask for more money. It's not like they are actually accountable and therefore have to watch their budget. So why get all bent out of shape because you have to ask your blackmailable bosses for more cash? And a pathetic $2.4 million at that.

     

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