New York: Greenidge gas powered cryptomining data center denied air permit renewal

Jul 05, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

It has been announced that New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has denied an air permit renewal by Greenidge Generation, which could see its gas-powered Bitcoin mining data center close. This follows the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling on West Virginia v EPA limiting federal action on climate pollution.

The facility has been operating under a 2016 permit, however the DEC wrote that the facility's emissions have "drastically increased" since it was issued, which is attributed to its increased focus on powering its Proof-of-Work (PoW) cryptocurrency mining. According to the DEC, the energy and climate impacts of these mining operations at the power plant are inconsistent with New York's climate goals, specifically its "statewide greenhouse gas emission limits," which were established in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, committing the state to reduce emissions 85% by 2050.

The plant owners now have a month to appeal the decision and, during that time, are still permitted to operate. In a statement, the company said: "We believe there is no credible legal basis whatsoever for a denial of this application because there is no actual threat to the State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) from our renewed permit. This is a standard air permit renewal governing emissions levels for a facility operating in full compliance with its existing permit today. It is not, and cannot be transformed into, a politically charged 'cryptocurrency permit.'"

However, in a statement, Liz Moran, New York policy advocate for Earthjustice, celebrated the DEC's permit denial: "On the heels of a major federal blow to climate action from SCOTUS, New York has stood up for the climate and public health by denying Greenidge's Title V air permit. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of community advocates across the state, this marks a major win for all of New York and demonstrates New York's commitment to adhering to our landmark climate law."

She added: "We applaud the Governor and the Department of Environmental Conservation for listening to the science and rightfully denying this permit — but the work cannot end here. Now Governor Hochul must ensure we meet our climate mandates by signing S.6486-D/A.7389-C into law. The 2-year moratorium bill on air permits for proof-of-work crypto mining at fossil fuel power plants would protect other New York communities and enable New York State to investigate the environmental and climate consequences of this practice. Proof-of-work crypto mining profits must not come at the expense of New Yorkers health, the environment, and our state's climate mandates."