State lawmakers in Maryland have filed emergency legislation – House Bill 1074 entitled The Fourth Amendment Protection Act (see embed below and/or see the Bill live on the Maryland.gov website) – which would physically and completely isolate the National Security Agency‘s Ft. Meade headquarters from all material support stemming from the state of Maryland including all utilities – which is major as that NSA facility is the single largest consumer of electricity in the state due to it’s sheer size as well as massive amounts of data processing.
The NSA facility in Ft. Meade relies heavily on Maryland public state utility services and the bill, if approved, would sever all those services as well as ban NSA collected data from being used as evidence in court, prevent Maryland based universities from partnering with the NSA and stop all political subdivisions from assisting the NSA from within Maryland.
Anyone found in noncompliance with the bill would be fired or in the case of contractors – banned from future contracts with the state.
The bill, which has 8 republican sponsors, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review on March 6th.
Others states which have attempted to pass similar measures against the NSA include Tennessee(Oak Ridge), Arizona, California and Washington. Utah, which is home to a massive new NSA complex just completed last year, is expected to file legislation early in 2014 as well.
Considering the Maryland legislation was sponsored by all Republicans and considering Democrats hold majorities in both the House of Delegates and the Senate – this measure faces some very tough hurdles ahead.
How much electricity? All about the NSA HQ in Ft. Meade, MD
The National Security Agency headquarters is located in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, which is about 20 miles southwest of Baltimore and 25 miles northeast of Washington, DC.
The NSA is the largest employer in the state of Maryland, and 2/3’s of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.
The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only.” The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.
The main building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds. It contains 3,000,000 square feet, or more than 68 acres, of floor space.
The Ft. Meade facility has over 100 watchposts and includes a cafeteria, credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, barbershop, bank, post office, fire department, and police force.
Following major power outages in 2000, 2003 and 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed and concluded that an “outage could leave Md.-based spy agency paralyzed.”
Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided the NSA with an estimated 90 megawatts(90 million watts) of electricity at the Ft. Meade complex in 2007 – as much electricity as the entire capital city of Annapolis consumed in the same year.
Estimates put the dollar value of the NSA’s Ft. Meade power consumption at $40 million annually.