Bitcoin Miner Greenidge Faces Setback as Regulator Denies Permit Application

The New York regulator said allowing Greenidge’s crypto mining operation could hinder the state’s efforts to meet its climate goals


Crypto mining farm | Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • Gas-fired power plant is not needed to satisfy the state’s energy demand, regulator said
  • The move came after the state legislature passed a bill in June to restrict carbon-fueled crypto mining operations

A New York regulator has denied bitcoin mining operation Greenidge Generation’s application Thursday to renew an air permit required to continue operating in the state. 

The former coal-fired plant located in Dresden, Yates County was converted from coal to natural gas in 2016 and began operating as a bitcoin mining facility in 2020. The regulator, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), said emissions from the power plant could make it difficult for the state to meet its climate goal — reducing the statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050. 

Greenidge’s Air Title V and Title IV (Acid Rain) permits expired on Sept. 6, 2021. The plant was able to continue operation with its expired permits while the agency considered the renewal application.

In the rejection letter, NYSDEC said Greenidge Generation’s conversion to a cryptocurrency mining operation meant “it was creating a significant new demand for energy for a wholly new purpose unrelated to its original permit” and that granting the permit would enable Greenidge to continue increasing its greenhouse gas emissions. 

The agency added that the plant was operating “primarily to meet its own significant new energy load,” rather than helping to satisfy the state’s electricity needs. 

A representative for Greenidge Generation didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In a statement, Greenidge, claiming the regulator had no legal basis for denying the application, said it would continue operating under its current Title V Air Permit while challenging the regulator’s decision. 

Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc.’s stock had increased by 0.98% as of 3:48 pm Friday. 

Greenidge’s use of fossil fuels to provide power for its proof-of-work mining operation has long concerned environmentalists. “Governor Hochul and the DEC stood with science and the people, and sent a message to outside speculators: New York’s former fossil fuel-burning plants are not yours to re-open as gas-guzzling Bitcoin mining cancers on our communities,” Yvonne Taylor, vice president of the advocacy organization Seneca Lake Guardian, told the Associated Press

The move also came after a bill the New York legislature passed in early June, putting a two-year ban on certain proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations that depend on carbon-based power. 

Greenidge has 30 days to request an “administrative adjudicatory hearing” about the application denial.

“If no appeal is filed, any ongoing operations that generate emissions from the facility would be unlawful without a valid Title V permit,” a NYSDEC spokesperson told Blockworks.

This is a developing story. New information may be added as it comes available.

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