Greenidge is facing an “uphill battle” to renew its Bitcoin mining permit, according to Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York and per local news outlet WSKG.
“Our belief still stands that this is a facility that’s going to have an uphill battle complying with the law,” Seggos said.
The DEC Commissioner added a caveat to his statement, however, saying the regulator owed it to Greenidge to review what the company had submitted for a permit renewal.
“We owe it to the applicant to review what they submitted to us, take a deep dive into that. If in fact that shows the ability to comply, then maybe we’ll have a second impression as to whether or not they could comply with the law,” said Seggos.
Greenidge’s regulatory battle
Greenidge Generation’s upstate facility in Dresden, New York, began life as a coal-fired power plant in 1937 before recently pivoting to Bitcoin mining using natural gas.
The company’s permission to mine Bitcoin comes in the form of a Title V permit that obliges Greenidge to control the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces annually.
The company obtained its Title V permit in 2016 and aims for a renewal—with a possible DEC decision to come in June this year.
In March 2021, Greenidge submitted documents to the regulator that included a letter—seen by Decrypt—which specified the legal maximum emissions the company could emit at its Dresden facility.
That permission allowed the company to produce up to 641,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. Previous research by Decrypt showed this figure to be broadly equivalent to about 708 million pounds of burned coal, 116 thousand homes’ average electricity consumption for the year, or 1.6 billion miles driven by a passenger vehicle.
New York’s climate ambitions
Environmentalists fear that Greenidge—and other Bitcoin mining plants—risk New York’s ability to honor its climate pledges.
The state’s climate obligations are set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which was signed into law in July 2019. The CLCPA obliges New York to generate 70% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
Greenidge has on several occasions claimed it remains fully compliant with its regulatory requirements, but that has not convinced environmentalists and climate activists.
“If other plants like Greenidge are converted to Bitcoin mining, then I don’t see how we can meet our emissions goals,” Mandy DeRoche previously told Decrypt.