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Bitcoin Mining Facility Raises Environmental Concerns for New York Lake

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Greenidge bitcoin mining plant sparks community backlash with environmental concerns.
  • This is not the first instance of opposition to the converted New York power plant.
  • The environmental impact of bitcoin continues to steal the spotlight.
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The Greenidge bitcoin mining facility in upstate New York continues to cause a backlash, this time from local residents over alleged rising water temperatures. 

Community members around Seneca Lake, the largest of the famous upstate New York Finger Lakes, are protesting the operations of the recently converted Greenidge power plant. The facilities are now a full bitcoin mining operation, which is known for its massive absorption of energy. Atlas Holdings owns the plant, which is operated by Greenidge Generation LLC.

Local residents have made unsubstantiated claims that the operations have caused a rise in the temperature in the neighboring lake. 

Despite community outrage, Jeff Kirt, the CEO of operations, says the plant’s environmental footprint, “has never been better than it is right now.” The plant operates within federal and state permits and is soon to be carbon neutral. It plans to purchase credits towards offsetting carbon emissions from the facility. 

While the situation could be direr if the plant operated on fossil fuels as opposed to natural gas, the electricity harnessed by its 8,000 computers is a major concern. 

Official thermal studies are planned for 2023, however, the residents claim the change is noticeable and worrying. 

More backlash for Greenidge bitcoin mining plant 

The recent development with residents around the plant is not the first vocal backlash against the Greenidge plant. 

As early as December 2020, reports emerged of regional backlash against building additional buildings on the grounds of the plant. Local groups, which include the Sierra Club and the Seneca Lake Guardian, hired an attorney to take the case to the Supreme Court

Activities created petitions with the foresight of the increase of temperature in the lake in mind. 

While Greenidge representatives have spoken about it being the only bitcoin mining operation that generates power from its own plant, it still is not enough to curb local concerns. 

Continued environmental concerns 

The case of the Greenidge power plant is not unique. 

Across the globe mining operations have been under scrutiny for their impact on the environment. Governments in places such as China and Iran placed heavy bans on mining operations to curb environmental damages. Earlier this year major companies like Tesla even dropped the cryptocurrency as a payment option until greener solutions can be implemented. 

While federal entities and large corporations take major steps against mining, the crypto community continues to look for solutions. The most recent bitcoin mining survey performed by the Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC) found that mining companies have sustainability as a top priority. 

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Savannah Fortis
Savannah Fortis is a multimedia journalist covering stories at the intersection culture, international relations, and technology. Through her travels she was introduced to the crypto-community back in 2017 and has been interacting with the space since.