New York Denies Air Quality Permits to Crypto Mining Facilities, Citing Sabin Center White Paper
On June 30, the New York Department of Environmental Protection rejected Greenidge Generation LLC’s application to renew its Title V air quality permit for the Greenidge Power Station. The facility, previously permitted as a “peaker” plant for natural gas flaring, recently added power generation to provide post-meter power to Greenidge’s proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations.
The denial cites a March 2022 white paper published by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Climate Institute. The paper argues that the New York executive has the legal power to suspend licensing of fossil fuel power plants that provide metered energy for proof-of-work cryptocurrency miners. As discussed in more detail in this article, Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of energy and therefore generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers recently estimated that Bitcoin mining generates 65.4 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Other estimates put Bitcoin’s annualized carbon footprint at 72.05 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, comparable to Greece, and a single Bitcoin transaction generates 805.77 kilograms of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from 1,785,864 VISA transactions.
To power such operations, there is a trend of transitioning former coal-fired power plants to natural gas generation to provide off-meter power to mining facilities. One such facility is Greenidge Generation, which operated as a coal-fired power plant in the 1930s, then ceased operations in 2011, and then obtained a new license in 2016 to restart operations as a natural gas-fired power plant. When applying for the license in 2016, Greenidge said it would only supply power to the grid at “peak” capacity, but since 2020, Greenidge has started using the energy it generates to power on-site cryptocurrency mining operations. As a result of this functional change, Greenidge’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased substantially, and Greenidge predicts that its emissions will continue to increase. As a result, Greenidge’s license renewal application has received significant attention statewide and nationally.
Read the rest of the article on the Sabine Center website.