The short story: Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency – virtual money. The money is created by computers that solve a series of mathematical equations. The first machine to solve the problem wins. The more machines you have working on the same puzzle, the greater the chances you have of profiting. Some forms of cryptocurrency mining are extremely energy intensive. It can use the same amount of energy as entire countries like Argentina. Greenidge is the test-site for crypto in NYS. When Greenidge was converted from a natural gas plant to a Bitcoin mine, a full Environmental Impact Statement was never completed. As the plant plans to expand its operations, activists are organizing to halt expansion. Potential impacts of cryptocurrency expanding include:
- Hot water discharge being pumped into the lake. Greenidge says they only discharge at 6 degrees warmer than they bring it in, but permits currently allow them to discharge water as much as 31 degrees warmer. Given the facilities plans to ramp up production, this would increase our likelihood of Harmful Algal Blooms and put the trout population at a dangerous temperature. The lakes are already at a tipping point, and the agricultural and tourism-based Finger Lakes economies rely on their health and beauty to survive.
- Intake pipes have no screens. Fish are killed by being sucked through the pipes.
- Air Emissions. Gas used at the Greenidge plant is fracked gas from Pennsylvania. Fracked gas is 93% methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. As Greenidge plans to ramp up production and likely establish prospective sites, this could be a big problem. It certainly will not help NYS reach the climate goals outlined in the CLCPA.
- Noise Pollution. Disruptive to lakeside communities and dangerous to human health.
Will you help us keep the crypto industry at bay? Here’s what to do:
- Contact your Senators and Assemblypeople. Here is a list of important people to contact. Please use it to pick a few and call or tweet them! Here is a sample call/email script and sample tweets to make things quick and easy. We want to reach as many reps as possible!
- Sign on here if you are an individual or sign on here if you are an organization to support Assembly Bill 7389 / Senate Bill 6486, which will establish a moratorium on any new or expanding cryptocurrency mining centers (unless a full EIS is done and it’s found that the center will not adversely affect the state greenhouse gas emission targets outlined in the CLCPA).
- Call Governor Cuomo at (518)-474-8390. Tell him that unregulated “behind the meter” Bitcoin operations completely evade his Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and that he must direct his DEC to deny Greenidge’s Title V air permit renewal.
Here are some more resources should you wish to learn more about this issue:
Factsheet provided by Seneca Lake Guardian
“Bit By Bit: Sacrificed to Bitcoin“: Youtube recording of a webinar featuring scientists, activists, community members, and Assemblywoman Anna Kelles. Kelles speaks about A7389 and the nuances of this particular situation. Worth a watch! If your time is limited, this is the best use of it!
“This power plant stopped burning fossil fuels. Then Bitcoin came along“: An article on the history of the Greenidge Generation plant on Seneca Lake.
Articles by local eco-journalist, Peter Mantius (from most recent to least recent):
After Elon Musk’s U-Turn on Bitcoin, Greenidge’s Parent Company Announces Plans to Go ‘Carbon Neutral’ by June 1
NY Senate Bill Would Impose 3-Year State Moratorium on Bitcoin Mining, Force Environmental Impact Statement
Greenidge’s Bitcoin Mining Ambitions Are Headed for Conflict With New York State’s Clean Energy Agenda
Spotlighting Greenidge’s Air Emissions, EarthJustice Warns: Power-Hungry Data Centers Could Sink NYS Climate Goals
Bitcoin Miners Scout for Site in Watkins Glen; Canadian Bitcoin Miner Buys Power Plant Near Buffalo
As Bitcoin’s Price Rockets Ever Higher, Greenidge Mining Profits Soar: Will Owners’ Windfall Wealth Trickle Down?
Thank you all for your hard work! We can do this with your help!