New York denies renewal permit for upstate crypto mining site

ALBANY — New York officials denied a renewal permit Thursday for a controversial upstate crypto mining operation.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said the fossil-fuel-burning Finger Lakes facility failed to show it could operate in line with the Empire State’s climate goals.

The agency’s long-awaited denial of the application to renew an air permit at the Greenidge power plant in Yates County follows months of pushback from neighbors and environmentalists upset over the pollution-spewing proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining facility.

Advocates applauded the decision and expressed hope that Gov. Hochul will follow up by signing a bill passed by the Legislature that would place a two-year moratorium on new mining facilities in the state.

“This is an incredible, precedent-setting moment for everyone who has fought side by side with the Finger Lakes community,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Now, it’s up to Gov. Hochul to finish the job by signing the crypto mining moratorium bill.”

Crypto mining for digital currencies such as Bitcoin uses vast amounts of energy as computers run 24 hours a day solving complex math problems and verifying transactions.

Greenidge, a former coal-based power plant that shuttered in 2011, has drawn heated opposition since being repurposed as a natural gas plant powering a massive Bitcoin mining operation in 2017.

There are currently 30 similar facilities operating across the state.

According to the DEC, the company failed to demonstrate compliance with statewide greenhouse gas emission limits established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“Among the factors considered was the dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the facility since the passage of the Climate Act, driven by the change in the primary purpose of its operations,” the agency said in a statement.

Greenidge, however, assured investors that operations will continue at the site as the decision is appealed.

“[W]e can continue running uninterrupted under our existing Title V Air Permit, which is still in effect, for as long as it takes to successfully challenge this arbitrary and capricious decision,” the company said in a statement.

The denial came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court released a 6-3 ruling limiting the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

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