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2021 environment reviewed: The cryptocurrency mining controversy

2021 environment reviewed: The cryptocurrency mining controversy

As the new year approaches, we look back on the most pressing environmental problems of the past 12 months. The Seneca Lake debate about cryptocurrency mining has become a larger test of New York state climate law. This will likely come to a head by 2022.

After a failed attempt at 2021’s tail end legislature session, lawmakers are preparing a proposal to put a moratorium on certain energy-intensive cryptocurrency generation operations. Environmental activists are concerned about the potential impact of large-scale mining operations on climate change and how this could slow down progress by states in combating it.

Protests against Greenidge Generation, a natural-gas-burning power station and cryptocurrency mining operation on Seneca Lake, Yates County, were the main motivators of the legislative effort. The New York DEC is also considering whether to renew Greenidge’s air pollution permit.

The state’s environmental regulator is concerned that the natural gas-burning power station will not achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, as stipulated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Greenidge has served as a good test case for Gov. Seggos to determine how serious the CLCPA law will be. Hochul and Commissioner Seggos, Yvonne Taylor vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. This group was one of the first environmental activist groups to draw attention Greenidge.

Greenidge has gained support to counter the criticisms. The IBEW, the union of electrical workers in the United States, is one of the strongest allies for Greenidge.

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These mining facilities will require regular maintenance and upgrades as technology advances, creating construction jobs, Addie Jenne, a lobbyist from the electrical workers union, told a state Assembly panel earlier in the year.

The DECs decision, that could be issued as early this month, may reflect new standards for large emitters in the state, when they apply for renewal of air pollution permits.

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