Pause Climate-Killing Crypto mining Now! Advocates, Electeds, FLX Biz Owners + Residents Rally @ Capitol

Coalition urges Gov to reject Greenidge air permit renewal and place moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining across NYS

On Wednesday, dozens of advocates, electeds, and Finger Lakes business owners and residents gathered at the Capitol to demand Governor Hochul place a moratorium on crypto mining. The group also called on the DEC to deny the air permit renewal application for Greenidge Generation, a converted peaker plant operating as a 24/7 Bitcoin mine under grandfathered-in permits in the Finger Lakes. The rally took place one week before March 31, when the DEC is expected to announce its decision. Greenidge is the test case for crypto mining in New York.

Watch the press conference and rally here.

“Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane. Governor Hochul must impose a moratorium and protect New Yorkers from climate-killing crypto mining, and DEC must deny Greenidge Generation’s air permit renewal,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. “In the Finger Lakes and across the state, outside speculators are invading our communities to destroy our natural resources, kneecap local businesses, and keep us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA. We deserve sane energy policy made by leaders who understand that regulation should be to save lives, not enable dangerous currencies favored by authoritarian states and criminals.”

The Governor is well within her legal authority to act, according to a new white paper released Monday by the Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law: A Pause on Proof-Of-Work: The New York State Executive Branch’s Authority to Enact a Moratorium on the Permitting of Consolidated Proof of Work Cryptocurrency Mining Facilities. The paper (summary of findings available here) finds that the DEC can treat Greenidge’s application not as a renewal but as a new request given its expanded activity as a Bitcoin mine. A new application would necessitate a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to determine the full extent of mining on the community and require a pause on all activities until complete.

Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge is a once-mothballed power plant that has been converted into a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it. The plant has brought only 48 new jobs to the region compared to the existing $3 billion agritourism economy, employing approximately 60,000 people, while poisoning the Finger Lakes’ natural resources. Greenidge operates over 17,000 Bitcoin mining machines and is expanding to over 32,500, pumping dirty fossil fuels into the air 24/7. This will lead to over one million tons of CO2 emissions each year, equal to that of 100,000 homes. Greenidge also sucks 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable.

The DEC's decision on Greenidge's air permit renewal was expected by January 31, but it was pushed back two months, allowing it to continue harming the community and expanding its operations.

Greenidge is part of a fast-growing, dangerous trend. New York now hosts 20% of the U.S.’s Bitcoin mining to the detriment of small businesses, local economies, the environment, and the climate. After China banned crypto mining, citing the environmental threats the practice poses to meeting emissions reduction goals, outside speculators have flocked to upstate New York to take advantage of the nonexistent environmental regulations.

The DEC has already confirmed that crypto mining is a threat to New York’s energy goals as outlined in the CLCPA. In a Monday story published in the Albany Times Union, referring specifically to Greenidge, the Department of Environmental Conservation cast doubts about continuing operations:

“Greenidge ‘has not demonstrated that the project is consistent with the attainment of statewide greenhouse gas emission limits established in the Climate Act.’ The agency said that Greenidge has not yet shown how the operation would not hinder the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

And at a recent Environmental Conservation budget hearing when asked about the potential impact of the escalating cryptocurrency mining activity in upstate NY on the state’s energy grid, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) President Doreen Harris stated, “There could be a very significant impact on NY load resulting from cryptocurrency mining depending on the penetration of the resource.”

Said Assemblymember Kelles: “The effects of the climate crisis—flooded basements, extreme heat, dangerous storms—disproportionately impact communities suffering from socioeconomic inequalities, especially communities of color. Our window to mitigate the very worst impacts of climate change and protect our communities is narrowing quickly. If we allow proof-of-work crypto mining to expand unchecked across NY, we will fail to meet our climate goals and put our neighbors in increasing danger. There are many ways to validate cryptocurrency transactions, none of which use anywhere near as much of our precious energy resources as proof-of-work crypto mining. We simply cannot let proof of work mining lead to an enormous energy consumption spike at a moment when climate scientists are collectively stating that we must reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the next eight years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

"Whatever you believe about the role of cryptocurrency in the world economy, we should all be concerned about the environmental impact of energy intensive crypto mining operations like the Greenidge plant on Seneca Lake. I continue to advocate for comprehensive environmental review of this project and any other efforts to bring dormant power plants back online to power supercomputers. Do these enterprises bring enough economic benefits to our state and local communities to offset the very significant greenhouse gas emissions, air and noise pollution impacts, and thermal pollution to our precious cold-water lakes? The NYS DEC should be taking a whole ecosystem approach when it considers permitting decisions for these projects, said Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison).

Assemblyman Steve Otis (91stAD) stated, “There are a number of methods of cryptocurrency authentication that use a fraction of the energy used in proof-of-work verification. Around the globe, jurisdictions and cryptocurrencies are moving against proof-of-work and the unnecessary energy use it requires. If we are to meet our climate change goals, the cryptocurrency industry must move to less wasteful authentication models. New York should send the message that we will require efficient and safe uses of our valuable energy resources.”

“Governor Hochul faces an important decision for New York regarding energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining and New York’s climate goals — and it starts with the Greenidge Facility.” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice. “Should Greenidge’s permit move forward, New York will have failed an important test in applying its crucial climate law. We join hand in hand with residents of Seneca Lake and communities across the state in calling on the Governor to issue a statewide moratorium on cryptocurrency mining and to deny the Title-V permit for Greenidge.”

"New York must protect the Climate Act from the death of a thousand cuts, like converting power plants to crypto mining operations. We have a climate crisis and simply can't afford to drain our energy supply with electricity-hogging proof-of-work crypto mining that benefits a few wealthy speculators," said Blair Horner, Executive Director of NYPIRG. "We need to make sure that people, especially low-income families, can heat their homes and meet other energy needs, not spend our carbon budget on wasteful operations like crypto mining."

“Greenidge and other efforts to re-power dirty fracked gas power plants to power crypto mining are an atrocious assault on New York’s landmark Climate Law,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman. “Crypto mining flies in the face of critical efforts to reduce our reliance on the polluting fossil fuels supercharging climate chaos. Governor Hochul must stop the Greenidge crypto mining operation and pass a moratorium on this destructive practice.”

“The original Title V air permit for the Greenidge fracked gas plant was issued without any mention or analysis of Bitcoin mining or the environmental impacts that come with such operations. This needs to be reconsidered and remedied through DEC’s air permit renewal process,” said Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “If the gap in regulation for behind-the-meter Proof of work cryptocurrency operations is not closed by Governor Hochul, this kind of digital partnership could soon be an integral part of every power plant operating in NY – which could profoundly derail state’s ability to comply with our climate goals.”

“As public health physicians, my colleagues and I have reported that New Yorkers living near to a fuel-fired power plant have an excess rate of hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. We have documented the air pollution released from Title V natural gas facilities and have calculated the consequent elevation in human disease among nearby residents. Combustion of fossil fuels poses a significant risk to human health. Governor Hochul, I urge you to declare a moratorium on Bitcoin mining/Proof of Work cryptocurrency mining operations in New York, and specifically to deny the Title V permit at the Greenidge power plant. Increased energy use for cryptocurrency purposes is not in the public’s interest,” said Dr. David Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment at University of Albany.

When I was director of the Center for Environmental Health at the DOH, I fought to keep fracking out of New York. It took time, but eventually, the executive branch did the right thing and signed a moratorium to make sure fracking would not happen here. Now, 10 years later, the executive branch has the chance again to protect New Yorkers and put a moratorium on Bitcoin mining. The public need a moratorium NOW,” said Dr. Howard Freed, physician and former director of the New York Department of Health’s Center for Environmental Health.

“Crypto mining is not a long-term sustainable industry with any significant regional benefits. The social costs far outweigh any benefits to our region. The miners are mining for something that doesn’t exist, with its true value being called into question almost daily. The NY wine industry generates over $6 billion per year with nearly 72,000 direct jobs resulting in $2.8 (and growing) direct wages, and tourists alone spend in the neighborhood of $2 billion dollars. These are industries creating real things with real value — they are not speculative at their core. The costs are simply not worth the return,” said Rick Rainey, Managing Partner and Conductor of Forge Cellars.

"We are now at a critical juncture that will either keep New York on track in facing our climate emergency or will wreak havoc on the state's climate law and policies. Repowering or expanding dirty fossil fuel power plants for energy intensive Proof of Work cryptocurrency mining operations will have disastrous consequences for our health, the environment, and our climate. Governor Hochul must take immediate action to deny the Greenidge plant's permit and establish a moratorium on Bitcoin mining to study its full environmental impacts. The New York State legislature must also quickly step up to enact the moratorium bill A7389B (Kelles)/S6486C(Parker). With so much at stake for all New Yorkers, every measure to protect our health, environment and our climate must be swiftly and decisively implemented," said Ellen Weininger, Director of Educational Outreach at Grassroots Environmental Education.

"The Clean Air Coalition of WNY strongly urges Governor Hochul use her authority to enact an immediate moratorium on Proof-of-Work blockchain validation (aka Bitcoin/cryptocurrency mining) and for the DEC to deny the permit renewal at Greenidge Generation - communities in the Buffalo-area, where Governor Hochul hails from, are struggling to develop regulations for the POW industry and to keep fossil fuel-power generation stations from causing further harm to our community. We need strong action that centers environmental justice from our Albany representatives and regulatory bodies, and need it now," said Bridge Rauch, Community Organizer at Clean Air Coalition of WNY.

"If the bitcoin mining industry in New York State is allowed to continue growing without any oversight or regulation, the ability to achieve the CLCPA goals will be put in serious jeopardy. For the governor to be true to her word that climate change is 'a threat to our way of life, here and now (State of the State Address, 1/5/22),' it’s clear what her next move must be: support a moratorium on bitcoin mining," said Peter Bardaglio, Coordinator, Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative.

“Allowing cryptocurrency mining while we’re spending so much effort trying to scale renewable energy to deliver on the mandates of the CLCPA is more than counterproductive- it’s dysfunctional. Turning a blind eye to energy-intensive crypto-mining while we erect offshore wind farms is like eating raw spinach with one hand while eating fried pork fat with the other. It’s time to eliminate such overt dissonance and bring on the promise of a clean energy future,” said Guy Jacob, Conservation Co-Chair, South Shore Audubon Society.

“We want the Governor to deny the Greenidge power plant EnCon permit as the plant is not in compliance. A sustainable precedent to prevent mothballed fossil fuel plants from reopening to engage in enterprises harmful to the environment would be passage of legislation establishing a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining,” said Fred Pfeiffer, Solidarity Committee of the Capital District.

“At our March meeting of the Albany County Central Federation of Labor, delegates voted unanimously for a resolution supporting NYS legislation to divest Fossil Fuel Investments from the NYS Teachers Retirement Fund and invest in renewables. The NYS Common Retirement fund did this in 2021 while recording the highest rate of returns in its history. Bitcoin mining requiring extreme use of fossil Fuels at Greenidge must END and a moratorium extended to other NYS locations. It's a highly speculative stock market investment, and a clear violation of our resolutions,” said Doug Bullock, 1st VP of Albany Central Federation of Labor.

“The original Title V air permit for the Greenidge fracked gas plant was issued without any mention or analysis of Bitcoin mining or the environmental impacts that come with such operations. This needs to be reconsidered and remedied through DEC’s air permit renewal process,” said Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “If the gap in regulation for behind-the-meter Proof of work cryptocurrency operations is not closed by Governor Hochul, this kind of digital partnership could soon be an integral part of every power plant operating in NY – which could profoundly derail state’s ability to comply with our climate goals.”


Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining (which Bitcoin uses) is an extremely energy-intensive process that requires thousands of machines whirring 24/7 to solve complex equations. The more machines that are running, the faster a coin is mined. Each one of these machines requires energy to run, plus more energy to run cooling technology. Globally, proof-of-work Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of energy each year as the entire country of Argentina. It produces 30,700 metric tons of e-waste each year, comparable to the yearly IT equipment waste of the Netherlands. If left unregulated, the industry will wreak irrevocable harm on the entire state of New York, making it impossible to reach New York's crucial climate goals as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA commits to an 85% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

These facilities are also major emitters of methane and toxic air pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are precursors of ground level ozone pollution and known causes of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, reproductive damage and preterm birth.

Powering Bitcoin mining with renewables is not a viable solution, as renewables supply cannot possibly meet the extreme energy demands of Bitcoin mining in addition to daily necessities such as heating and cooling homes and running cars. Any renewable energy that supports Bitcoin mining is renewable energy that is being diverted from the public grid. And when crypto miners rely on the public grid, they stick everyday New Yorkers with the bill. A 2021 study estimates “the power demands of cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York push up annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for individuals.

Crypto mining is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the state constitution passed last year, which guarantees every New Yorker the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. Revitalizing old polluting power plants for private financial gain, with drastic consequences for our air, water and climate, all while causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional - and ought to be treated as such.

Reform groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have specifically criticized the crypto mining industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain, and a group of federal lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren recently requested details from six major Bitcoin mining companies about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change. Earlier this month, President Biden issued an executive order requiring federal agencies study the legal, economic, and environmental impacts of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin mining. Even the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, an avid crypto booster has come out against mining, declaring at a February 9th joint session of the Legislature: “I support cryptocurrency, not crypto mining.”

More than 1,000 organizations, businesses, environmental activists, concerned residents, wine makers, elected officials, and more have acted over the last year in opposition to crypto mining in New York State. A letter sent to Governor Hochul in October was signed by more than 650 individuals and groups. In letters to Governor Cuomo last year opposing Greenidge Generation's expansion from an emergency peaker plant to a 24/7 Bitcoin mining operation, organizations, businesses, and Finger Lakes residents demanded Gov. Cuomo revoke Greenidge's permits due to its massive greenhouse gas emissions, poisoning of the Finger Lakes, and noise pollution, with no economic benefit to the community. Greenidge Generation is still operating in Dresden, NY under grandfathered-in permits granted for use as a peaker plant, not 24/7 Bitcoin mining. Greenidge has applied for an air permit renewal and is awaiting a decision from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Similar fights have occurred in Plattsburgh and Niagara Falls, which resulted in local moratoriums.

Legislation (A7389B/S6486C) to place a 3 year moratorium on Bitcoin mining in New York State is picking up steam in the Assembly with 41 co-sponsors including 15 senior-ranking Assembly committee chairs as of February 24.

About Seneca Lake Guardian

Seneca Lake Guardian is a New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation with 501(c)(3) and is dedicated to preserving and protecting the health of the Finger Lakes, its residents and visitors, its rural community character, and its agricultural and tourist related businesses through public education, citizen participation, engagement with decision makers, and networking with like-minded organizations.