ICYMI: Assemblymember Kelles Responds to DEC'S Delayed Decision on Bitcoin Mine Permit Renewal
ITHACA, NY (02/03/2022) (readMedia)-- The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that it will delay its decision about whether to renew Greenidge Generation's title V air permits until March 31, two months after a decision was initially expected. The Greenidge facility operates as an energy-intensive 24/7 Bitcoin mining operation under permits allowing it to run as a natural gas-burning peaker plant. Greenidge did not amend its permit renewal application to reflect its expanded operation, and it will continue to operate during this delay as a Bitcoin mine while constructing four new buildings and expanding from 15,300 mining machines to 32,500. Assemblymember Anna Kelles issued the following statement in response:
"I am disappointed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)'s decision to delay release of their final deliberation on the Greenidge Generation LLC's application for a Title V air permit renewal. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has stated publicly on numerous occasions, most recently on Tuesday during the Legislature's Joint Budget Hearing on Environmental Conservation that Greenidge has not shown compliance with NY's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The DEC's decision to delay until March 31 and take 2 additional months to review public comments will enable Greenidge to complete the full buildout of its cryptocurrency mining facility. Government can move expeditiously and this decision is one of those moments when we need the DEC to lead and take swift action on this critical climate issue. I urge the DEC to complete their review as quickly as possible and deliver a decision to the concerned residents, business owners, wine makers, and environmental activists who have been advocating for this issue."
More than 1,000 organizations, businesses, environmental activists, concerned residents, wine makers, elected officials, and more have taken action over the last year in opposition to crypto mining in New York State. In letters to Governor Cuomo last year opposing Greenidge Generation's expansion from an emergency peaker plant to a 24/7 Bitcoin mining operation, organizations, businesses, and Finger Lakes residents demanded Gov. Cuomo revoke Greenidge's permits due to its massive greenhouse gas emissions, poisoning of the Finger Lakes, and noise pollution, with no economic benefit to the community. Greenidge Generation is still operating in Dresden, NY under grandfathered-in permits granted for use as a peaker plant, not 24/7 Bitcoin mining. Greenidge has applied for an air permit renewal and is awaiting a decision from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Similar fights have occurred in Plattsburgh and Niagara Falls, which resulted in local moratoriums.
Seneca Lake Guardian is urging Governor Hochul to place a moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining with dozens of environmental organizations in the Stop Proof-of-Work Crypto Coalition including Earthjustice, NYPIRG, Sierra Club, and Food and Water Watch. There is a bill before both houses of the State Legislature that would place a statewide moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining: S6486C and A7389B.
Proof-of-work cryptocurrency is an extremely energy-intensive process that requires thousands of machines whirring 24/7 to solve complex equations. The more machines that are running, the faster a coin is mined. Each one of these machines requires energy to run, plus more energy to run cooling technology. Globally, proof-of-work Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of energy each day as the entire country of Argentina. It produces 30,700 metric tons of e-waste each year, comparable to the yearly IT equipment waste of the Netherlands.
There are 49 decommissioned or underutilized power plants across the state, phasing out as New York reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, that could again guzzle fossil fuels - this time for their own private interests without any public benefit. If left unregulated, the industry will wreak irrevocable harm on the entire state of New York, making it impossible to reach New York's crucial climate goals as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA commits to an 85% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.
Crypto mining is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing every New Yorker the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. Revitalizing old polluting power plants for private financial gain, with drastic consequences for our air and water and causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional.
Crypto mining privatizes access to the grid for private gain and sets a dangerous precedent, wherein anyone with the resources to do so can burn fossil fuels and strain the grid in order to make a profit. When crypto miners rely on the public grid, they stick everyday New Yorkers with the bill. A 2021 study estimates "the power demands of cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York push up annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for individuals."
About Seneca Lake Guardian
Seneca Lake Guardian is a New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation with 501(c)(3) and is dedicated to preserving and protecting the health of the Finger Lakes, its residents and visitors, its rural community character, and its agricultural and tourist related businesses through public education, citizen participation, engagement with decision makers, and networking with like-minded organizations.