Seneca Lake Guardian Responds to DEC Hearing on Greenidge's Air Permit Appeal
DRESDEN, NY (12/08/2022) (readMedia)-- Today, the DEC will begin its issues conference for Greenidge Generation. In June, the DEC denied Greenidge Generation's application to renew its air permit; a decision that Greenidge has appealed. Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian, issued the following statement:
"The DEC already denied Greenidge's air permit, and Governor Hochul just signed the cryptomining moratorium- which was literally inspired by Greenidge - into law. Even the White House agrees that fossil fuel-based cryptomining can't keep going the way it is. Plus, according to Greenidge's own statements they're going broke. It couldn't be more clear that the DEC must uphold their decision."
Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge is a once-mothballed power plant that was converted into a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it. The plant has brought only 48 new jobs to the region, while poisoning the Finger Lakes' natural resources. Greenidge also sucks 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at up to 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that could make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied Greenidge's air permit renewal in June stating that the facility poses a threat to the state's climate goals. But Greenidge is still operating and even expanding as it appeals the DEC's decision. It's also attempting to renew its water permit without having met the conditions of its expired water permit.
A few months after Greenidge's permit was denied, Gothamist reported, "The company has added about 10,000 computers and mined about 300 bitcoins in July alone, which would be worth more than $6 million. Their hash rates, a unit of how much power the bitcoin network is using, increased by nearly 70% over the last four months." The added computers mean more greenhouse gas emissions (it's on track to emit at least as much as 100,000 homes), more harm to Seneca Lake (a new study confirms that Greenidge's operations are warming the lake).
Meanwhile, Bitcoin has plummeted 65% this year, and the crypto industry is imploding. Greenidge is in financial ruin, losing $44 million so far this year as its stock tanked 95% (down to $0.49/share this week). The company's CEO abruptly stepped down. Other Bitcoin miners have been similarly struggling - Compute North recently filed for bankruptcy, and TeraWulf Inc., which operates a Bitcoin mining facility in New York, has seen its stock fall more than 90% this year.
Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining is an extremely energy intensive process that threatens the ability of governments across the globe to reduce our dependence on climate-warming fossil fuels. Mining 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 for cooling. Globally, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy each year than the entire country of Argentina. In the U.S. alone, Bitcoin mining produces an estimated 40 billion pounds of carbon emissions each year.
Cryptocurrency mining facilities are major emitters of air pollutants. And when cryptocurrency miners rely on the public grid, they can stick everyday people 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."
Powering Bitcoin mining with renewables is not a viable solution, as renewables supply cannot possibly meet the extreme energy demands of Bitcoin mining in addition to daily necessities such as heating and cooling homes and running cars. Any renewable energy that supports Bitcoin mining is renewable energy that is being diverted from the public grid.
In September, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report about the cryptomining industry's climate threats and the need for regulation. But cryptomining continues to grow rapidly across the country. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club recently released a new Guidebook, finding that from July 2021-22 Bitcoin mining in the U.S. alone consumed as much electricity as four states combined, emitting 27.4 million tons of CO2 - equivalent to the emissions of as much as 6 million cars annually.
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.