New York denies allow renewal for bitcoin mining firm, calling it risk to state’s local weather targets

Albany, N.Y. — New York officers denied required air allow renewals Thursday to a bitcoin-mining energy plant on the grounds that it was a risk to the state’s local weather targets.

The allowing determination was one other instance of New York placing the brakes on a cryptocurrency bonanza that has alarmed environmentalists. It additionally comes at a time when cryptocurrency costs have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and sparking requires tighter scrutiny.

The state’s allowing determination concerned Greenidge Era, an previous coal-fired plant by the shore of Seneca Lake that had as soon as been shut down, however was transformed from coal to pure gasoline a number of years in the past and started bitcoin mining in earnest in 2020.

A majority of the electrical energy produced by the plant is now used to run greater than 15,000 pc servers for bitcoin mining, which guzzles large quantities of electrical energy.

In rejecting the renewals, the state Division of Environmental Conservation mentioned the plant’s conversion to a cryptocurrency mining operation meant it was creating a major new demand for vitality “for an entirely new function unrelated to its unique allow.”

Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium
Greenidge Era bitcoin mining facility, in a former coal plant by Seneca Lake in Dresden, New York, is proven on this picture from November 2021.

Ted Shaffrey / AP

“As an alternative of serving to to fulfill the present electrical energy wants of the state as initially described, the ability is working primarily to fulfill its personal important new vitality load,” the company mentioned in its letter to the corporate.

The corporate mentioned it might proceed working beneath its present allow whereas it challenged the choice. It mentioned there was “no credible authorized foundation” for the denial.

“It’s absurd for anybody to take a look at these details and rationally declare that renewing this particular allow – for a facility that makes up a small fraction of the state’s electrical energy era capability – would impede New York’s long run local weather targets. It merely wouldn’t,” the corporate mentioned.

Local weather activists who see Greenidge as a check case had requested Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration to disclaim renewal of the plant’s air high quality allow and to dam comparable initiatives.

The choice comes as Hochul is deciding whether or not to signal into legislation a two-year moratorium on new and renewed air permits for fossil gas energy vegetation used for proof-of-work mining.

Greenidge is just not affected by the first-of-its-kind moratorium measure, which covers new purposes.

New York has attracted plenty of firms that want cheap vitality to run the large pc arrays wanted for energy-intensive “proof-of-work” cryptocurrency mining – a time period for the computational course of that data and secures transactions in bitcoin and comparable types of digital cash.

Greenidge has mentioned that even when the plant ran at full capability, its potential emissions equate to 0.23% of the state’s greenhouse gasoline emissions discount goal for 2030. The corporate argued the plant is 100% carbon impartial, because of the acquisition of carbon offsets, equivalent to forestry packages and initiatives that seize methane from landfills.

Environmentalists have been happy with the denial.

“Governor Hochul and the DEC stood with science and the folks, and despatched a message to exterior speculators: New York’s former fossil fuel-burning vegetation usually are not yours to re-open as gas-guzzling Bitcoin mining cancers on our communities,” mentioned Yvonne Taylor, vp of the advocacy group Seneca Lake Guardian.

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