DRESDEN, NY (WENY) -- Nearly two years after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation first denied the renewal application of a Title V air permit for Greenidge Generation in Yates County, that decision will stay, after a lengthy appeals process. 

Greenidge Generation operates a natural gas powered power plant in the town of Torrey, in Yates County. The plant in part, uses electricity it generates to operate a behind-the-meter cryptocurrency mining operation. 

The DEC initially denied Greenidge Generation's permit renewal application in June of 2022, stating "renewal of the Title V permit would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the attainment of the Statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits established in Article 75 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). Moreover, Greenidge has failed to demonstrate that the continued operation of the Facility is justified notwithstanding this inconsistency, as it has not provided any electric system reliability or other ongoing need for the Facility."

Cited in the 2022 denial, the DEC said its decision was based on the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CPCLA), that went into effect in 2020. 

In July of 2022, Greenidge appealed the denial, and requested an administrative adjudicatory hearing. During this time, Greenidge has been permitted to continue operating its Dresden facility as normal, in regards to power generation and datacenter operations. 

An administrative law judge assigned to the matter held two virtual public hearings in the fall of 2022, followed by issues conferences in December 2022 and January 2023. The ALJ ultimately ruled that the DEC did not err in finding that the renewal of the Title V air permit would be inconsistent with the CLCPA's GHG emission limits. However, the ALJ did rule that four issues will advance to adjudication, including the following:

1. Whether there is justification for renewal of the Title V air permit notwithstanding
the inconsistency with the CLPCA GHG emissions limits. The purpose of the facility is
relevant to this issue.
2. Whether there are proposed alternatives or greenhouse gas mitigation measures
which, are real, additional, quantifiable, permanent, verifiable, and enforceable; are
located where the project is located, and will result in the immediate lessening or the
elimination of the inconsistency or interference with the GHG emissions goals of the
CLCPA at the time of permit issuance.
3. Whether renewal of the Title V air permit will disproportionately burden
disadvantaged communities, as prohibited by § 7(3) of CLCPA.

However, in a the latest decision dated May 8th, 2024, the Regional Director for Region 7 of the DEC stated there were no issues for adjudication, and the adjudicatory hearing should be canceled. 

After reviewing data, the DEC determined that Greenidge's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the facility "have increased drastically" since the issuance of its Title V permit, and the effective date of the CLCPA. The agency also cited the change in Greenidge's primary purposes for its facility operations, and that rather than providing generated electricity to the grid, the company utilized a majority of its energy behind the meter to support its proof-of-work bitcoin mining operations.

If the permit renewal was granted, the DEC states it would allow Greenidge to continue operating as-is, making it more difficult for New York State to reach its GHG limits under the CLCPA. The decision cites renewing the permit would allow the facility to continue increasing energy demand, as well as GHG emissions through the increased combustion of fossil fuels, as well as considering if the absence of the facility would result in any reliability issues pertaining to maintaining electric service.

Opponents of Greenidge's operations call the DEC's denial a victory. 

"We applaud this decision and the DEC's original decision on June 30, 2022, almost 2 years ago, to deny Greenidge Generation's Title V Air Permit. This decision helps preserve the Finger Lakes region, our agri-tourism industry and our communities. This decision stands with all those who voted for the right to have clean air, water and a healthful environment. Our bold NYS climate law, the CLCPA, must be the lens through which new and renewal permits are considered," said Abi Buddington, Secretary of Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes.

Greenidge Generation plans to file suit against the DEC, saying it will continue to operate as it has in the meantime. The company issued a statement in response to the permit renewal denial, stating:

"DEC's political bias in this matter has been clear for years and now we have staff at DEC brazenly overturning the position of its own Administrative Law Judge, who wanted to give this matter a full and fair hearing to determine the facts of the case.  

The Department’s positionthat a new State law used for the very first time to deny the renewal of an existing permit, does not bring about even a single factual issue for adjudication is arbitrary, capricious, and utterly preposterous on its face. We will be filing an injunction and an Article 78 proceeding in an actual New York State court, where laws and facts govern. 

Greenidge will continue to operate as we seek relief from this absurd action, and we will continue to fully comply with all state and federal regulations as we maintain good-paying, high-tech jobs in Upstate New York.   

There have been six rulings in state or federal court on Greenidge’s operations in New York, all won by Greenidge. When this issue moves outside of DEC’s political environment and into an actual court of law, we expect the same result.”