The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has denied bitcoin mining operation Greenidge Generation’s application to renew an air permit required to continue operating in New York.
Regulators said Greenidge’s application was inconsistent with the climate goals laid out by the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which aims to reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emission by at least 85% by 2050.
The decision comes on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), deciding that the Clean Air Act – the most powerful anti-air pollution law in the country – does not give the federal agency authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The decision limits federal authority to tackle climate goals, leaving them in the hands of individual state authorities.
Greenidge has been under fire from environmentalists for its use of fossil fuels to power its proof-of-work (PoW) mining operation on Seneca Lake in upstate New York. In its rejection letter to Greenidge, the NYSDEC cited the “dramatic” increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the Dresden-based facility since the Climate Act took effect. The plant is powered by natural gas, though it was originally a coal-fired facility before Greenidge’s parent, Atlas Holdings, refitted it.
In a statement shared with CoinDesk, Greenidge said the decision would not “have any impact on our current operations in Dresden.” The company said it will continue to operate under its current air permit, which is still in effect, “for as long it takes to successfully challenge this arbitrary and capricious decision.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul took to social media to celebrate the decision, tweeting:
“I applaud NYSEC’s decision, which will stop future increases in greenhouse gas emissions at Seneca Lake.”
Hochul has not yet signed a bill passed by the New York state Legislature that would impose a two-year moratorium on certain types of crypto mining operations.
Instead, crypto mining advocates are hoping Hochul will opt to sign a different bill sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Clyde Vanel that would create a task force to study the environmental impacts of the cryptocurrency industry in New York.
Unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – which has members employed at Greenidge’s Dresden facility – have pushed back against both the proposed mining moratorium and Thursday’s decision by the NYSDEC.
“It is a sad day in New York State, when we can throw away good paying jobs in a hi-tech field,” Mike Davis, a member of the IBEW Local 840 chapter, wrote in a statement shared with CoinDesk.
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