DEC Decision on Greenidge Generation Permit Renewals Delayed Again
ALBANY, NY (WENY) -- A decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on whether or not to approve permit renewals for a natural gas-fired power plant and Bitcoin mining facility in Yates County is on hold yet again.
The DEC issued an update Thursday regarding the Title V (Air) and Title IV (Acid Rain) permit renewals for Greenidge Generation. The agency was expected to approve or deny the renewals on March 31st.
The update says Greenidge Generation has proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures, to meet state requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. On March 25th, Greenidge sent a letter to the DEC, saying in part the company is proposing "what the department may deem mitigation under the CLCPA consisting of a binding condition to be included in our Final Title V Air Permit that requires a 40% reduction in GHG emissions at our Dresden facility from the current permitted level, to be achieved by the end of this permit term in 2025."
Greenidge says the GHG reduction in emissions at its facility will be obtained a full five years prior to New York's CLCPA target date of 2030. The company also proposed that it will be a zero-carbon emitting power generation facility by 2035, also five years ahead of the statewide target under Public Service Law for the electric generating sector.
The DEC will now review the additional information, as well as 4,000 public comments received in regarding to the permit renewals. A decision is now expected on June 30, 2022. For more information on the DEC website regarding the permit renewal process for Greenidge Generation, click here.
WENY News received the following statement from the DEC:
DEC has advised the applicant, Greenidge Generation, LLC, of the need for additional greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures to meet the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. On March 25, Greenidge Generation, LLC, proposed GHG mitigation measures for the facility as part of the current Title V and IV permit renewal process. DEC has not made a determination regarding the sufficiency of the proposed GHG mitigation measures in meeting these requirements.
DEC is reviewing additional information submitted by the applicant, as well as all application materials and the approximately 4,000 public comments received.
DEC has not made a final decision on the application and will ensure that any final decision is in compliance with all applicable standards and requirements to protect public health and the environment, including the Climate Act.
DEC and Greenidge Generation, LLC mutually agreed to further suspend the Uniform Procedures Act (UPA) timeframe for permit reviews. The new UPA schedule is June 30, 2022.
Greenidge Generation currently operates more than 17,000 Bitcoin miners at its Dresden facility in the town of Torrey. The company has come under intense scrutiny by opponents, over environmental concerns regarding carbon emissions, air and water quality on Seneca Lake.
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Seneca Lake Guardian, one of the main groups leading the charge against Greenidge's permit renewals, expressed frustration with yet another delay from the DEC.
"It is outrageous that Governor Hochul not only failed to act but punted a decision to after the primaries in an apparent attempt to cover her political interests. This complete abdication of responsibility is a direct assault on the Finger Lakes, our $3 billion, 60,000-job local agritourism economy, and the climate. There is a cost to political cowardice and Governor Hochul and all of us may very well suffer the consequences," said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. "In light of Governor Hochul's total dereliction of responsibility, it's up to the State Legislature now to take the lead and impose a moratorium on this dangerous industry by passing A7389B/S6486C."
WENY News reported last week, the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee voted to advance legislation that would establish a moratorium on proof-of-work authentication methods for blockchain cryptocurrency mining, for operations such as power plants that generate their own electricity using carbon-based fuels. Such a moratorium would directly impact facilities that operate like Greenidge Generation to mine cryptocurrency.
RELATED: NYS Assembly Committee Advances Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium Bill
Assemblywoman Dr. Anna Kelles is the primary sponsor of the moratorium bill, and has been outspoken against proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, which she said is not in line with the state's climate goals.
"This action to once again delay the decision on the Greenidge air and water permits is incredibly disappointing and appears to be politically motivated. The DEC already explicitly asked for additional information from the applicants on how they comply with the CLCPA in early fall of last year. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and the DEC have had plenty of time to review Greenidge's application in the context of our Climate Leadership and Community Protection law. Thousands of elected officials, scientists, and concerned citizens alike submitted their comments and deserve a decision," said Kelles said in a statement issued by Seneca Lake Guardian. "If we allow proof-of-work cryptomining to expand unchecked across NY, we will fail to meet our climate goals and put our neighbors in increasing danger. There are many ways to validate cryptocurrency transactions, none of which use anywhere near as much of our precious energy resources as proof-of-work cryptomining. We simply cannot let proof of work mining lead to this enormous energy consumption spike at a moment when climate scientists are collectively stating that we must reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the next eight years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."
Opponents will hold a virtual press conference on Friday regarding the DEC's latest decision. WENY News will have continuing coverage of this story.