The National Security Agency’s headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md., will go dark if a cohort of Maryland lawmakers has its way.
Eight Republicans in the 141-member Maryland House of Delegates introduced legislation Thursday that would deny the electronic spy agency “material support, participation or assistance in any form” from the state, its political subdivisions or companies with state contracts.
The bill would deprive NSA facilities water and electricity carried over public utilities, ban the use of NSA-derived evidence in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research.
State or local officials ignoring the NSA sanctions would be fired, local governments refusing to comply would lose state grant funds and companies would be forever barred from state contracts.
The bill was filed as emergency legislation and requires support of three-fifths of delegates to pass. It was referred to the chamber’s judiciary committee.
NSA facilities in Maryland use a massive amount of water and electricity, the supply of which might be jeopardized by the legislation.
The agency signed a contract with Howard County, Md., for water to cool a computer center under construction at Fort Meade, The Washington Post reported Jan. 2. The deal reportedly involves up to 5 million gallons of water a day for nearly $2 million a year. As of 2006 the agency headquarters purchased as much electricity from Baltimore Gas & Electric as the city of Annapolis, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The proposal is the latest in a series of state bills aiming to cut off the NSA one jurisdiction at a time for allegedly ignoring the Fourth Amendment with its dragnet collection of phone and Internet records.
The legislative wave is spearheaded by the Tenth Amendment Center, which along with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee launched the OffNow coalition last year seeking to cut off water to the NSA’s just-built Utah Data Center.
Legislation hasn’t yet been introduced in Utah, but lawmakers in Arizona, California, Tennessee, Washington and other states have filed bills based on model legislation from the Tenth Amendment Center.
Several of those bills were introduced with bipartisan sponsorship. The Arizona bill has been the most successful to date, winning 4-2 approval by the state Senate Government and Environment Committee on Feb. 3.