Greenidge Generation: Air Permits are up for Public Debate
DRESDEN, N.Y.(WENY)-- Over the past year, Bitcoin Mining operation, Greenidge Generation, has seen a large amount of opposition from environmental groups.
Many concerns have been expressed when it comes to one of the largest Bitcoin mining operations in the United States, but the main concern is the effect the operation is having on the environment.
“If New York State is serious about their bold climate initiative about the Climate Leadership and Community protection act, we must absolutely be reducing greenhouse gases, not reopening decommissioned or underutilized power plants using fossil fuels to make cryptocurrency,” said Taylor
When Atlas Holdings moved into the shuttered power plant in Dresden New York, the company grandfathered the existing air permits; air permits that are now up for renewal. The Department of Environmental Conservation specifically required the facility to meet the goals of the Climate Leadership and Protection Act, goals that require the facility to help the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030.
In a reply to WENY news, the DEC said “based on information currently available, the application has not demonstrated that the project is consistent with the attainment of greenhouse gas emissions established in the climate act”
On September 1st, the DEC determined the air permits were ready to be issued for public review and comment, and on Sept 8th they were released to the public. The DEC also announced they will hold virtual public comment hearings at both 1 PM and 6 PM on October 13th( to join these meetings follow this link).
“ I think it is very important that we all make our voices heard,” said Taylor. “ Right now there is an opportunity to let the Department of Environmental Conservation know that we care about our clean air, our clean water, and our thriving economic agricultural tourism industry.”
Greenidge Generation declined to directly comment to WENY News but in a press release they said: “ Since resuming operations in 2017, Greenidge has fully complied with our state-issued air and water permits and taken additional steps beyond that to improve the environment we share.”
Greenidge Generation is referring to the fact that they converted the power plant so it could never run as a coal-fired plant again and the fact that they are using carbon offsets to become “100% carbon neutral”.
“That is what we call green-washing,” said Taylor. “ If you are a stationary power plant you can not avail yourself of carbon offsets, that is the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act law, so for Greenidge to make that claim it is disingenuous and it has absolutely no impact on the air emissions that it is continuously putting out into our environment.”
Greenidge Generations operation has also caught the attention of multiple politicians such as Assemblywoman Dr. Anna Kelles and most recently Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Gillibrand requested that the EPA “ exercise its oversight powers in evaluating the renewal of the Title V Clean Air Act permit currently under consideration for the Bitcoin mining operations of the Greenidge Generation plant in Dresden, New York.”
Dr. Kelles has been front running the fight against cryptocurrency mining in New York by advocating for a moratorium on all operations until a full environmental assessment can be done.
While Kelles is not against cryptocurrency, she is against the Proof of Work model that mining facilities like Greenidge Generation, operate on.
“Proof of Work was [the first validation method] in 2009 and often the first one that everyone gets built on and then it just sort of runs because humans don’t like change and it is really complicated to think about anyway,” said Kelles. “ Proof of Stake is such a superior validation method, it is not only more efficient and more secure, but it also does not destroy the planet.”
“Because of the way a PoS model is designed [mining facilities] are not necessary, the currency still exists, but continuously investing and paying people to validate the transactions are no longer necessary,” said Kelles. “ So the mining operations don’t exist in a PoS model, they are not necessary.”
Kelles said in order to get a grasp on how much of an impact cryptocurrency mining is having on the environment, community members need to contact their local representatives and push bill A7389A.