The Village of Los Lunas Council approved a nearly $40 billion dollar expansion of Facebook's data center on Thursday night. Facebook's subsidiary Greater Kudu LLC filed the application, which would be paid for by industrial revenue bonds, or IRBs. An IRB is a tax break for companies that plan to expand by way of construction and equipping of a future project. The company asked for a series of six payments exceeding no more than $6.6 billion for each payment.
Not everyone was happy about the vote. Valencia Water Watchers is a grassroots community organization aimed at raising awareness of area water and the local government’s decisions surrounding it. They said the village council has not been transparent enough about the project and the impact it would have on the area, particularly how much more water the company would be using from the Middle Rio Grande Basin. Currently, the Middle Rio Grande is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, and farmers have been asked to halt growing unless absolutely necessary.
In a statement issued after the vote, the group said, "We are extremely disappointed with the Village of Los Lunas Council's decision to approve $40 billion in IRBs to expand the Facebook data center. The council meeting was stacked with people not from Valencia County who spoke in support of approving the bonds. Many county residents spoke in opposition to voting on the bonds with so many unanswered questions about the negative impact of this decision on county residents, this vote was inadequately informed and premature. Valencia Water Watchers is a strong coalition dedicated to protecting our water. We will continue to organize, grow our coalition, and speak out against a Village Council that is prioritizing corporate interests over the community."
The expansion is slated to build six additional buildings. During Thursday's meeting, council members expressed they didn't have exact numbers on how much water consumption was needed for Facebook's data center expansion. The data center provides storage for Facebook’s social media sites, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.
At least 20 community members gave public comments during the meeting asking the council to delay the vote and get more community input. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the expansion would add about 300 new jobs and 30 more full-time employees.
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