NEW YORK, NY (02/09/2022) (readMedia)-- During his question and answer session during today's Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2022 Executive Budget Proposal, NYC Mayor Eric Adams clarified his position on cryptocurrency:
"I support cryptocurrency, not crypto mining," said Mayor Adams after being asked by Assemblymembers Anna Kelles and Steve Otis about the environmental issues associated with crypto mining.
After Mayor Adams announced that he would convert his first three paychecks into Bitcoin and Ethereum, environmental activists criticized his embrace of Bitcoin, which has an extremely energy-intensive mining process with massive consequences for the climate and New York's natural resources. Other forms of crypto use a validating method called "proof-of-stake" which does not require the same energy-intensive mining process as Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the only remaining crypto currency to use "proof-of-work" mining. Ethereum announced last year that it is in the process of switching from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.
"Seneca Lake Guardian is relieved to see that Mayor Adams has heard us and understands the major threats that Bitcoin mining poses to New York State. Bitcoin mining could cost New Yorkers millions of dollars in energy bills while kneecapping local businesses, poisoning our water, and filling our air with deadly CO2 emissions. This industry is already expanding fast upstate, and if we don't act quickly, outside speculators could begin converting the City's peaker plants into 24/7 fossil fuel-guzzling cancers on communities of color. We hope the Mayor will also join us in calling on Governor Hochul to place a moratorium on mining," said Joseph Campbell, president of Seneca Lake Guardian.
Support for a moratorium is gaining growing momentum as 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, and gubernatorial candidate and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joined Finger Lakes business owners and residents last week to draw attention to the environmental and economic risks of mining. In addition, a group of federal lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren recently requested details from six major Bitcoin miners about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.
Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge Generation is a once-mothballed power plant that has been converted into a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it. Greenidge operates over 17,000 Bitcoin mining machines and is expanding to over 32,500, pumping dirty fossil fuels into the air 24/7. This will lead to over one million tons of CO2 emissions each year, equal to that of 100,000 homes. Greenidge also sucks 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable. The plant brings very few new jobs to the region while poisoning the air and natural resources the local $3 billion agritourism economy relies on.
The DEC's decision on Greenidge's air permit renewal was expected by January 31, but it was pushed back two months, allowing it to continue harming the community and expanding its operations. Greenidge is the test case for the rapidly growing Bitcoin mining industry in New York.
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 passed last year, which guarantees 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, water and climate, all while causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional - and ought to be treated as such.
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.