FINGER LAKES, NY (01/28/2022) (readMedia)-- Bloomberg reports that a group of lawmakers, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, have demanded details from six major Bitcoin miners about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.
"Given the extraordinarily high energy usage and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining, mining operations raise concerns about their impacts on the global environment, local ecosystems, and consumer electricity costs," wrote Warren and seven other U.S. lawmakers including Representative Katie Porter and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
"The extraordinarily high energy usage and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining could undermine our hard work to tackle the climate crisis -- not to mention the harmful impacts cryptomining has on local environments and electricity prices," Warren added in a statement.
Read the letters here.
This industry has already negatively impacted New York State, which hosts nearly 20% of the country's crypto mining to the detriment of small businesses, pandemic-depressed local economies, the environment, and the climate. After being banned in China, outside speculators are flocking to New York to take advantage of the nonexistent regulatory structure in order to mine what amounts to a tanking stock. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer previously raised concerns about the Greenidge Generation crypto mining plant in Dresden, NY, but neither NY Senators Gillbrand nor Schumer signed this latest letter.
Reform groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have criticized the crypto mining industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain. In doing so, Bitcoin mining operations raise energy costs for everyday New Yorkers: one 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."
The Bitcoin mining industry's energy use will make it impossible for New York to meet the zero-emission goals outlined by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Its CO2 emissions aren't just harmful for the climate - this industry's air pollution includes the same type of particulate matter that the EPA just found responsible for the preventable deaths of 143,000 elderly people.
"Wealthy tech-bros have invaded New York State to destroy our natural resources, kneecap local businesses, and keep us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA. Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane. We need our Senators Gillibrand and Schumer to support our call for a moratorium, and we need Governor Hochul to impose a moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining now. Crypto mining poses a serious threat to the health and safety of all New Yorkers," said Joseph Campbell, president of Seneca Lake Guardian.
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.