Environmental groups urging Hochul to prevent cryptocurrency mining in New York

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Several organizations and groups are calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to prevent cryptocurrency mining in New York. A press conference was held on October 13 at the State Capitol to address cryptocurrency mining and the effects it has on the environment.

Groups called on Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to issue a statewide moratorium on Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining until an environmental review is conducted.

Proof-of-work cryptocurrency is a type of cryptocurrency, commonly used in Bitcoin, that is the most energy-intensive of the various types of cryptocurrency mining. Reporting has uncovered that, globally, this practice consumes more power than some entire countries. 

The press conference was held the same day as DEC’s hearing on the air quality permit for the Greenidge Generating Station, a current cryptocurrency mining operation. Groups urge for the denial of the permit. 

Speakers said how Greenidge poses a threat to the environment, specifically a threat to the climate and water quality. Speakers said the emissions at the facility are way too high and the energy usage is causing the temperature of Seneca Lake to rise.

“We believe this is the top environmental issue facing our great state,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian.

Greenidge released a statement a few hours after the press conference.

“Our critics make a lot of claims of negative impacts that do not hold up after scrutiny. This is New York; we have incredibly tight environmental regulations. Every ecological impact is carefully tracked, measured, and publicly cataloged – yet our critics cannot point to a single piece of data to support their claims of damage to the region,” said Greenidge.

Greenidge said their air permit is in the process of being renewed.

However, DEC said in a statement they have not made a final decision on the renewal of the permits to Greenidge Generation. DEC said Greenidge has not demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, including requirements regarding greenhouse gas emissions.   

DEC said Greenidge’s air quality permits expired on September 6. Since the renewals were submitted to DEC on a timely basis, by operation of law, the facility may operate under the terms of its existing permit while DEC considers the renewal application.   

DEC has released the draft permits for public comment and will hold virtual public comment hearings at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on October 13. The public is encouraged to submit comments on the draft permits by November 19.

Taylor said a letter is being sent to Hochul with over 600 signatures from environmental organizations, faith-based groups, labor unions, and businesses to deny Greenidge the cryptocurrency mining permit.

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