Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency mining —commonly known as Bitcoin mining — is a growing industry in New York and poses a massive threat to our climate. Speculators are invading upstate in order to make a fake buck, bringing little economic benefit to the communities they are based in, while hampering the progress New York is making to move away from burning dirty fossil fuels.
Gov. Kathy Hochul needs to declare a moratorium on proof-of-work bitcoin mining in New York State. Now. Here’s why.
Greenidge Generation LLC operates a power plant on the shores of Seneca Lake. Once a coal-burning plant, it closed its doors and reopened years later as a natural gas peaker plant. But that wasn’t profitable enough for its owners at Atlas Holdings, so they filled the plant with 15,300 proof- of- work bitcoin mining machines, using massive amounts of energy to run 24/7 in order to produce a few bitcoins. Their goal is to eventually fill the facility with 30,000 machines, which would consume enough energy to power 93,000 homes. Greenidge is doing all this under the same Title V air permits it was granted to run as a peaker plant, to only be used when excess energy was needed by the public. That air permit is currently up for renewal, and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision could come any day.
Greenidge is the test case for the encroaching wave of cryptocurrency mining that could result in the conversion of nearly 30 shuttered upstate power plants. These power plants closed as New York led the country in moving away from burning dirty fossil fuels, and they could reopen not to produce energy for New Yorkers or support our economy, but to make rich private equity guys richer. There is currently no state or federal oversight of cryptocurrency mining operations. The longer Hochul waits to act, the longer she is putting our climate at stake. Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane.