Seneca Lake Guardian Releases TV Spots
Engages Finger Lakes Residents In Fight For Bitcoin Mining Moratorium
Watch the spot here.
Over images of the Finger Lakes region's beautiful natural resources and scenery, Greenidge's industrial facility and smokestacks, and protestors fighting the plant, the TV spot says:
"Bitcoin mining is a polluting form of virtual currency that was banned in China and other countries and now it's invading upstate New York. It threatens our clean air, water, climate, crops, and jobs. Outside speculators like Greenidge on Seneca are destroying the things we love about our wine region all to make fake money with little benefit to our community. Crypto can't come at the expense of the Finger Lakes. Join our fight! Call Governor Hochul and ask her to deny Greenidge's Title V air permit and put a moratorium on Bitcoin immediately."
The spot directs viewers to call Governor Hochul's dedicated line for comments on cryptocurrency mining: 866-942-5138.
"Wealthy tech-bros are invading the Finger Lakes to destroy our natural resources, kneecap local businesses, and keep us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA, all for a fake currency that experts have called a ponzi scheme. We hope these TV spots will encourage more members of our community to join our movement and fight this existential threat to our region. Governor Hochul must direct the DEC to deny Greenidge Generation's air permits, and to impose a moratorium on Bitcoin mining. Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane," said Joseph Campbell, president of Seneca Lake Guardian.
Support for Greenidge's permits to be denied and for a moratorium is gaining growing momentum. Last week, NYC Mayor Adams made comments opposing crypto mining during a Joint Legislative Hearing on the Executive Budget. Reform groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have criticized the crypto mining industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain, and gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams joined Finger Lakes business owners and residents to draw attention to the environmental and economic risks of mining. In addition, a group of federal lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren recently requested details from six major Bitcoin miners about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.
New York State now hosts 20% of the country's rapidly-growing crypto mining industry to the detriment of small businesses, local economies, the environment, and the climate. Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge Generation, a once-mothballed power plant converted to a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it, is the test case for the future of Bitcoin mining in New York State. 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. The CO2 emissions aren't just harmful for the climate - this industry's air pollution includes the same type of particulate matter that the EPA just found responsible for the preventable deaths of 143,000 elderly people.
Greenidge is permitted to withdraw 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at temperatures up to 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable. The plant brings very few new jobs to the region (there were only 26 employees in 2020) while poisoning the air and natural resources the local $3 billion agritourism economy, employing 58,000 people, relies on. 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.
The Bitcoin mining industry as a whole is extremely energy-intensive and will make it impossible for New York to meet the zero-emission goals outlined by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. 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.
More than 1,000 organizations, businesses, environmental activists, concerned residents, wine makers, elected officials, and more have taken action over the last year in opposition to crypto mining in New York State. 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.
Seneca Lake Guardian is urging Governor Hochul to place a moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining with dozens of environmental organizations in the Stop Proof-of-Work Crypto Coalition including Earthjustice, NYPIRG, Sierra Club, and Food and Water Watch. There is a bill before both houses of the State Legislature that would place a statewide moratorium on proof-of-work crypto mining: S6486C and A7389B .
Proof-of-work cryptocurrency 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 day 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.
There are 49 decommissioned or underutilized power plants across the state, phasing out as New York reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, that could again guzzle fossil fuels - this time for their own private interests without any public benefit. 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.
Bitcoin 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. In particular, in the Finger Lakes region, this industry is harming the natural resources that are under consideration for a National Heritage Area Designation.
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.