Russ Haven is a corporate lawyer for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) based in Albany and New York City.
We learned that at the end of last month — once again — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) postpones the decision to issue a pollution permit to Greenwich Generation, a Bitcoin mining business disguised as a Finger Lakes power plant. I knew Governor Kathy Hokul was a fan of Buffalo Bills, but I didn’t know she was also an NFL caliber Panther.
The latest delay is decided at least 5 months The original January deadline has passed Meanwhile, a large amount of pollution that adversely affects the climate will be exhaled by the plants operating under the expired permit.
While the Governor and the State Environment Agency are dithering, Greenidge Generation aims to run Bitcoin mining on 32,500 computers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, emitting greenhouse gases for as many as 100,000 households. We are building a business in. Electricity from the power plant runs a bank of computers that solves essentially meaningless puzzles that validate digital transactions. The so-called “blockchain” technology has many useful applications, but the “proof of work” type used in Bitcoin etc. is very energy consuming.
NYPIRG, along with national and state environmental groups, citizens and business leaders of Finger Lakes, opposes allowing previously stagnant power plants to serve as an energy source for cryptocurrency mining.
Greenidge claims that the permit needs to be renewed because it is basically the same plant. It’s not. There have been many changes since the last permit was issued in 2016. For one thing, when electricity demand was very high, it was sporadically operating as a power plant rather than a full tilt capacity. The other is that New York passed. The strongest climate law in the countryRequire states to phase out fossil fuel use for power generation, including reducing GHG emissions by 40% across the state and producing 70% of electricity through renewable energy sources by 2030 I am.
As DEC became skeptical of Greenwich’s ability to comply with the law, the plant raised its promise to reduce carbon emissions to climate law levels. But these promises are questionable — they require a significant reduction in Bitcoin mining or a large investment in the production of their own renewable energy.
Greenidge is just one operation, Crypto mining test case in New York, Already hosts 20% of the country’s mining industry — most states. The governor’s decision to kick the cans shows that the phased-down fossil fuel-burning power plant can be acquired and powered by a well-funded outside speculator.
We need to retire our fossil fuel infrastructure and we don’t have to accept new excuses to keep it going. It’s a disaster movie waiting to happen and we’ve seen early versions of it: Climate change brought us Hurricane Irene and Lee (2011) and Superstorm Sandy (2012). .. A few dollars of damage and last summer’s rain that struck New York City with more than seven inches of rain in just a few hours drowned residents of underground apartments and turned streets and subways into canals.
This is the moment of Hochul’s hydraulic fracturing. DEC must deny permission renewal for Greenidge Generation. But that alone is not enough to prevent crypto mining from doing more harm to New York. The Hochul administration should follow the precedent set 10 years ago, when New York was the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing due to widespread health and environmental problems. Crypto mining extraction techniques may be digital, but the damage is just as realistic and concrete. New York needs to set up a moratorium on energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining power plants so that we can study the full impact on the environment. The Governor is within the legal authority to act, as recently detailed by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. White paper..
The state’s ambitious and necessary climate law goals promise to be environmentally friendly, at risk of suffering a thousand reductions from hedging, making exceptions, or making concessions to fossil fuel programs. Governor Hochul, you have power. Use it to deny Greenidge’s permission and put on hold energy-intensive encryption.