Bitcoin Mining is Energy-Intensive and Must Be Regulated
Updated: Feb 19
From the Seneca Lake Guardian and the Sierra Club, Finger Lakes Group
In the sleepy, bucolic heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York, along a drinking water source for 100,000 people, a mothballed coal-fired plant was retrofitted to burn natural gas to supply extra power to the public. Since the region didn’t require that much power, it was only supposed to operate about 6% of the time. The DEC greenlighted the plan with no Environmental Impact Statement, simply re-issuing the old coal-plant permits. Soon thereafter, the owners started installing Bitcoin mine servers and suddenly, this inefficient old gas power plant is running 24/7, and has increased its air emissions ten-fold. Although the proposed Bitcoin expansion into new buildings would drive up Greenidge energy production, triggering even more increases in toxic air emissions, noise levels and Seneca Lake water intake, and hot water discharges, DEC has insisted that all of those negative impacts would fall within existing permit limits. Completely caught off guard, the community now faces an expansion of the plant with no regulation for Bitcoin Mining on the books.
[Not sure what bitcoin mining is? Check out this article from Investopedia: Bitcoin Mining]
This is a test case and Bitcoin Investors are closely watching the Greenidge facility on Seneca Lake. They’re ready to position themselves in other communities, and seek out old power plants near cold water in particular. The company’s stated plan to exceed 500 megawatts of Bitcoin processing by 2025 would depend on opening Bitcoin operations at other power plants, at sites that were not disclosed.
Bitcoin is so energy intensive that it uses more power than some entire countries. It's water intensive, too. This old gas fired power plant uses once-through cooling and is permitted to withdraw up to 139,000,000 gallons per day, or the equivalent of a water truck parade (with each truck carrying 5,000 gallons) 102 miles long- and discharge 132,000,000 gallons of hot water into a trout stream daily. In 2019, China’s economic planning commission listed crypto-currency mining as an industry it plans to eliminate because it “seriously wastes resources” and/or pollutes the environment.
At a time when we must stop burning fossil fuels, burning more to create fake money is insane. Bitcoin mining completely evades the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) of New York.
Because the power Greenidge generates for Bitcoin processing never reaches the electric grid, it is not subject to regulation by the state Public Service Commission. The extreme energy demands of Bitcoin processing have drawn increased alarm worldwide in recent months — expressed by sources ranging from China to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. In an interview this month, Gates said: “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind….It’s not a great climate thing.”
Ask that Governor Cuomo Intervene
Please call Governor Cuomo (518)-474-8390, and ask that he require his DEC to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Greenidge Bitcoin Mining Project on Seneca Lake. Ask him to commence an adjudicatory hearing to better understand the issues raised by the community.
Ask for a moratorium on Bitcoin Mining in NY and the US
Please call your state and federal representatives and demand a temporary moratorium on Bitcoin mining operations in New York, and across the US, until regulations can be implemented and further studies can be completed.
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