September 10, 2021

Gillibrand Presses EPA For Increased Oversight On Bitcoin Mining Operations In Dresden, NY

Gillibrand Calls on EPA to Exercise Oversight Powers Under the Clean Air Act and Assess Environmental Impact of Cryptocurrency Mining at the Greenidge Generation Plant

This week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan calling on the agency to closely evaluate the renewal of the Title V Clean Air Act permit currently under consideration the Greenidge Generation plant located in Dresden, New York, which operates as a Bitcoin mining facility. The Greenidge Generation plant has recently begun ramping up its electricity production to power cryptocurrency operations, increasing the plant’s emissions nearly tenfold and potentially posing significant risk to the ecology of New York’s Finger Lakes region. 

As the Greenidge plant continues to expand into cryptocurrency mining, it is vital that the EPA maintain close tabs on its environmental impact,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The plant has dramatically increased its emissions since becoming a Bitcoin mining facility and I am committed to ensuring that its activities do not violate the integrity of the water we drink or the air we breathe. While the plant has the potential to stimulate the region’s economy, the EPA must first conduct a thorough assessment to ensure that it is not doing irreparable harm to the environment.”

Since its last permit, the Greenidge Generation plant has taken steps to build several structures to house data processing equipment for use in Bitcoin mining and increased its electricity production using natural gas from the Empire Pipeline System. The plant’s subsequent increase in emissions, along with its current Clean Water Act permit to withdraw and discharge nearly 140 million gallons of heated water into the Keuka outlet that runs into Seneca Lake, poses a combination of potential environmental threats to the clean water and air in the greater Finger Lakes region.   

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to the EPA can be found here and below.

Dear Administrator Regan,

I write to request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exercise its oversight powers in evaluating the renewal of the Title V Clean Air Act permit currently under consideration for the Bitcoin mining operations of the Greenidge Generation plant in Dresden, New York.

The Title V permit held by the Greenidge Generation plant – which operates as a Bitcoin mining facility – is currently up for renewal by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and by extension the EPA. Since the permit’s last renewal, which established Greenidge as a natural gas-fired plant, the plant has begun ramping up its electricity production to power cryptocurrency mining operations. Research by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club indicates that this course of action has increased the plant’s emissions nearly tenfold. Subsequently, the plant’s ownership has taken steps to build several structures to house data processing equipment for use in Bitcoin mining and to further increase its electricity production using natural gas from the Empire Pipeline System.

The Greenidge Generation plant’s operations have changed substantially since its last permit as a natural gas plant designed to help meet the region’s energy needs. The plant’s emissions have grown significantly, increasing its environmental impact in tandem with its current Clean Water Act permit to withdraw and discharge nearly 140,000,000 gallons of heated water into the Keuka outlet—which runs into New York’s pristine Seneca Lake. As such, the plant’s Bitcoin mining operations pose a potentially significant risk to the ecological sustainability of New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Accordingly, I urge the EPA to exercise its oversight powers under the Clean Air Act and involve itself in the DEC’s review of Greenidge Generation’s permit to fully assess the potential consequences of the plant’s Bitcoin mining operations and the effect on local emissions and air quality.

Thank you for your attention to this issue, and please do not hesitate to contact my staff with any questions.