3 months ago 2 min read

Environmental Group Sues New York State For Approving Crypto Mining Facility

new york state-kathy hochul-bitcoin

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) was reportedly sued by environmentalists for authorizing the takeover of a bitcoin mining operation in the state.

In September 2022, the PSC, which regulates public utilities, gave its approval for the Fortistar North power plant's transformation into a crypto-mining farm.

The Canadian mining business Digihost will take control of the facility, which is situated in Tonawanda, a town that is only ten miles from Niagara Falls. Plaintiffs assert that the approval broke a 2019 climate law in New York.

According to the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Sierra Club, who were both represented by the organization Earthjustice, the PSC's authorization of the transfer violated the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which was passed in 2019.

The CLCPA includes zero-emission electricity by 2040 and other objectives, such as an 85% reduction in statewide emissions by 2050. Environmental evaluations, according to activists, are required by New York State when evaluating projects.

Clean Air and the Sierra Club claim that the Fortistar facility was only ever used as a "peaker" plant, operating 10 to 74 days a year only when there was a high demand for energy, such as in the cold winters and hot summers. The facility would continuously function as a crypto mining operation, upping greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3,000%, according to court filings.

The organisations assert that the CLCPA broadly necessitates that environmental studies be conducted prior to approvals and verdicts in order for the state to finally achieve its climate goals. According to the court lawsuit, the PSC declined to review the CLCPA and its criteria throughout the approval process, which began in April 2021.

In response to environmental concerns brought to the PSC during the clearance process by Clear Air and the Sierra Club, Digihost reportedly indicated that it would convert the facility to renewable natural gas with the ultimate objective of using only hydrogen by the end of 2023. The corporation also informed the panel that the North Tonawanda Planning Commission had approved the firm's mining facility after conducting its own environmental evaluation.

Governor Kathy Hochul enacted a two-year ban on new bitcoin mining operations in the state that use fossil fuels in November. The factory is immune from the ban because Digihost purchased it before the bill enacting the provision.

Although critics assert that the employment generated by cryptocurrency mining is negligible, supporters assert that it benefits rural areas by generating employment and economic activity there.

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