Greenidge’s Air Permits Go To Public Hearing

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced it will hold public hearings in the permit renewal process for Greenidge Generation, contending the bitcoin mining operation is not in compliance with the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The DEC announced late Wednesday that it had yet to make a final determination regarding the renewal of Greenidge’s permit, and would be taking the matter before an administrative law judge through several public hearings.

Yvonne Taylor and other protestors gather outside the Greenidge Generation Facility in Torrey, NY in April before the facility’s Bitcoin mining expansion was approved. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

In response to its application to renew its permits, the DEC requested Greenidge specifically outline how its operation will meet the state’s emissions goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed in 2019. This includes reducing the state’s total emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. It also involves the goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in the energy generation sector, which includes Greenidge, by 2040.

“While sufficient information has been submitted to begin the required public review, at this time the applicant has not demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, including requirements regarding greenhouse gas emissions,” the DEC wrote in a statement to WSKG.

Greenidge responded to the DEC, providing figures as to the facility’s projected future emissions and contending that its operation would be consistent with the CLCPA.

“While Greenidge has already more than achieved the 2030 target for reductions compared to the 1990 baseline with reductions implemented to date, the company will of course strive to comply with the zero emissions goal established for the entire statewide energy sector by 2040,” Greenidge wrote in its response to the DEC.

A spokesman for Greenidge maintained that position in a statement to WSKG on Wednesday.

“We are proud of our environmental stewardship in both power generation and bitcoin mining, and of our growing role as a job creator and vital economic engine for Upstate New York,” the spokesman wrote.

Environmental activists applauded the action by the DEC.

“This preliminary response by the DEC regarding Greenidge is very promising,” Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian, wrote to WSKG in a statement.

Earlier this year, Greenidge Generation requested permission from the Town of Torrey Planning Board in Yates County to effectively expand its capacity to mine, or create, cryptocurrency using energy generated at the natural gas-burning plant. The move drew criticism from Taylor and other environmental activists who alleged it would increase emissions and create other adverse environmental impacts along Seneca Lake.

Greenidge’s expansion plans were ultimately approved, though the debate inspired state lawmakers to propose legislation that would temporarily bar similar new cryptocurrency mining operations in New York.

The public may submit written comments to the DEC or participate in the hearings scheduled for Oct. 13.