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Why NY's new cryptocurrency mining moratorium doesn't apply to Seneca Lake facility

A group of people stand outside with signs that read: "Hochul: No fracked gas for Bitcoin mining."
Courtesy of Carol Andrews
Carol Andrews
Protesters at an outdoor rally hold signs decrying bitcoin mining in New York state.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature on a cryptomining moratorium has environmentalists celebrating this week. The legislation prevents the establishment of new cryptocurrency mining plants in the state.

Despite the new moratorium, a crypto mining plant in the Finger Lakes and others in operation aren't impacted by the suspension and will be grandfathered in under the prior law. The vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, Yvonne Taylor, considers the moratorium a step in the right direction.

“It is a major grassroots win in spite of the fact that the crypto mining industry, while this bill was moving through the State Legislature, was spending $1.2 million to lobby against it," Taylor said. "So, it will have an important impact."

But Taylor said that because the moratorium allows Greenidge Generation near Senecea Lake and other existing crypto plants to go unscathed, it's also a partial letdown. However, she felt the Department of Environmental Conservation's denial to renew Greenidge Power Plant's air permit last summer is a hint that its days are numbered.

“It’s disappointing for the folks in the Finger Lakes Community who still have to deal with the Greenidge Plant," Taylor said. "But, we are optimistic that with the hearing that is upcoming on the Title IV air permit and our opportunity to participate in the water withdrawal permit renewal, that we will be able to shut it down."   

Taylor said the plant uses 139 million gallons of Seneca Lake's water daily. She also said the discharged water reaches as high as 108 degrees, which she said can be bad for trout and contribute to algal blooms.

Greenidge Generation said in a statement the New York DEC approved the plant's renewal application in September, and the new law won't impact the plant. The company plans to utilize its existing air permit until it successfully challenges the DEC's "arbitrary and capricious decision made in June."

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.