We urge you to sign on to this letter urging New York to take a pause and study the impacts that proof of work cryptocurrency mining has on climate, air, water, and health before it expands across the state. If this issue is not yet on your radar, it absolutely must be now.
Cryptocurrency mining energy use has risen 320% in the past 5 years. A 2018 study published in Nature found that the number of computers used to mine Bitcoin could produce enough greenhouse gases to raise global temperatures above the 2-degree Celsius tipping point in less than three decades.
Electricity production, the raw material of Bitcoin mining, has a profound human cost. Globally, four million premature deaths occur each year as a result of air pollution, a sizable fraction of which are due to coal and natural gas combustion in power plants.
In a letter from Earthjustice to DEC, 30 New York power plants were identified as potential targets for cryptocurrency installations. Old or decommissioned power plants should be phased out, not repowered or expanded for cryptocurrency operations.
Cryptocurrency mining consumes more energy than entire countries like Argentina, Sweden, or Pakistan. China and India are considering bans on cryptocurrency mining because it is defeating all of their climate goals and taking power away from the public for private use.
This climate buster disproportionately impacts environmental justice communities making this industry both an environmental issue and a social justice issue.
Everything we do or plan to do about climate change will be undermined by growing cryptocurrency mining operations unless we address this industry.
Please sign your organization and share widely today.
The Greenidge power plant in Finger Lakes Wine Country is the test case for how the rest of the state’s old and retiring power plants will fall. Greenidge is not an outlier, it is the beginning of a new business model that threatens the gains we are making toward New York’s climate goals. At full capacity, it is estimated that the Greenidge facility would emit over a million tons of CO2 equivalents annually. Plants in Lansing and Barker, NY, set to convert to similar data centers would emit six times that of Greenidge, or 6 million tons of CO2 equivalents.
A North Tonawanda facility recently applied to the Public Service commission replicating the Greenidge application in the Buffalo area, and we have identified 2 centers in Rochester. Watkins Glen is also being targeted due to its cheap electricity. It is hard to know the scope of existing facilities, because private companies are private equity funded and we can’t tell what their projections, forecasts or plans are to start or expand until a NASDAQ prospectus on replicability is revealed.
Because many of these facilities are operating “behind the meter”, theyare able to evade the CLCPA requirement that by 2030 70% of grid electricity must be from renewable sources. This loophole is being exploited, where neither the PSC nor the DEC can prevent rapid escalation of GHG emissions from these power plants. The state must comprehensively address this looming threat to CLCPA compliance, rather than leaving it to town-by-town fights and permit by permit actions.
These old power plants use and discharge more water than any other industry. In a time of water contamination and growing water scarcity, this cannot be overlooked. In our community, the DEC permitted 134 million gallons of daily thermal pollution discharged from Greenidge into Seneca Lake, a drinking water source for over 100,000 people, which already has problems with Harmful Algal Blooms, a toxin to both humans and animals. We know that rising temperatures due to climate change increases incidents of these blooms, and this hot water discharge won’t help.
Speculative asset production is not an essential need. Crypto mining is extractive capitalism of the 21st century. It extracts energy from the public for private gain. Comissioner Seggos said that “New York is on track to achieve its CLCPA goals. This claim is short-sighted, misguided, and disingenuous unless cryptocurrency mining is counted in the CLCPA’s calculations. The Greenidge Title V permit renewal must be denied.
Ms. Harris, CEO of NYSERDA, reported that currently 27% of the energy in NY is from renewables. Efforts to power cryptocurrency with renewables would cripple NY’s goals to replace fossil fuels with renewables if we divert these resources to cryptocurrency’s energy intensive industry. Moreover, it is a waste of renewable energy that is better used to supply the transportation and electricity sector.
A moratorium on Bitcoin mining in the state while completing a comprehensive study of its impacts on air, water, and health is absolutely essential. We strongly urge your support of A7389/ S6486, authored by Assemblymember Kelles and to offer all assistance you can to get it passed this session.
Please add your organization’s name to this sign-on letter, and share it widely with your networks.