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Borrowing Bay Water in Alameda

A waterfront server farm cooled by the bay would be environmentally less impactful than one cooled via air conditioning. Or would it?

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Through it all, Connaughton called himself an environmentalist. "Climate change is one of the most important areas of government with complex opinions and I was the uber mediator," he said in an interview. He also expressed pride in his 35-year record on the issue and believes the data center "should be evaluated on its merits," and not on his politics.

Connaughton vows to comply with any environmental benchmarks the city council applies to the project in order to prove "we won't create the harm that we won't create." He added: "My entire life has been as a conservationist and an environmentalist and it's an issue that doesn't know any party stripe."

But Oddie is not so sure. "He believes he's an environmentalist, but our definitions might be different. ... I don't fault him for his beliefs, but it makes me question whether we can trust someone who served for, until now, the least environmentally friendly president in history. There seems to be a lot of 'Trust me. Trust me' coming from him and given his prior positions, I have concerns."

The Alameda City Council could decide to approve the lease with Nautilus Data Technologies on Tuesday night with the suggested amendments intended as safeguards for its environmental concerns. Nautilus Data Technologies would still require numerous regulatory approvals before it begins drawing water from the bay. Or, the council could also apply more conditions before approving the lease, including directing Nautilus Data Technologies to relocate the discharge pipe, according to city staff. To be approved, the lease agreement will need support of four of the city's five councilmembers.

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