New York Officials Speak Out Against Bitcoin Mining Powerhouse | Your money


ALBANY, NY (AP) — New York officials on Thursday denied air permit renewals required for a bitcoin mining power plant on the grounds that it poses a threat to the state’s climate goals. .

The clearance decision was another example of New York putting the brakes on a cryptocurrency windfall that has environmentalists alarmed. It also comes at a time when cryptocurrency prices have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and prompting calls for greater scrutiny.

The state’s licensing decision involved Greenidge Generation, a former coal-fired power plant on Seneca Lake that had previously been shut down, but was converted from coal to natural gas several years ago and started in earnest. bitcoin mining in 2020.

A majority of the electricity produced by the plant is now used to run more than 15,000 computer servers for bitcoin mining, which consumes huge amounts of electricity.

In rejecting the renewals, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said converting the plant to a cryptocurrency mining operation meant it created significant new energy demand “in an entirely new purpose unrelated to its original license”.

“Instead of helping meet the state’s current electricity needs, as originally described, the facility is operating primarily to meet its own significant new energy load,” the agency said in its letter to the company.

The company said it would continue to operate under its current license while contesting the decision. He said there was “no credible legal basis” for the refusal.

“It is preposterous for anyone to look at these facts and rationally claim that renewing this specific permit — for a facility that represents a small fraction of the state’s power-generating capacity — would hamper long-term climate goals. New York term. It just wouldn’t be,” the company said.

Climate activists who see Greenidge as a test case had called on Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration to deny renewal of the plant’s air quality permit and block similar projects.

The decision comes as Hochul decides whether or not to sign a two-year moratorium on new and renewed aerial permits for fossil-fuel power plants used for proof-of-work mining.

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

New York has attracted a number of companies that need inexpensive power to run the huge computer arrays needed to mine energy-intensive “proof-of-work” cryptocurrency – a term for the a computational process that records and secures transactions in bitcoin and similar forms of digital money.

Greenidge said that even if the plant was operating at full capacity, its potential emissions were equivalent to 0.23% of the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. The company argued that the plant was 100% carbon neutral, thanks to the purchase of carbon offsets, such as forestry programs and projects that capture methane from landfills.

Environmentalists rejoiced at the denial.

“Governor Hochul and the DEC have stood with science and the people, and sent a message to outside speculators: New York’s old fossil fuel power plants are not yours to reopen as mining cancers of gas-guzzling bitcoins on our communities,” Yvonne said. Taylor, vice president of the Seneca Lake Guardian advocacy organization.

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