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Bitcoin Miner Gets Pushback from Environmental Activists in New York

The regulatory space in the United States has been quite favorable for companies that were operating in the Bitcoin mining space. A lot of these companies are aiming to redistribute the hash rate globally and curb the dominance China enjoys. However, it appears that a company is facing some pullback after its expansion from residents of a town in New York. Last Thursday, court documents were filed, which showed that three organizations had teamed up with 20 residents for suing the town of Torrey, New York. These organizations included the Seneca Lake Guardian, the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes and the Sierra Club.

They were filing a lawsuit against the town for giving approval of expanding a crypto mining facility near one of the Finger Lakes. The New York Supreme Court is where the case was filed and it alleged that state laws had been violated by the local government when they gave permission to Greenidge Generation, a Bitcoin miner, to expand their existing Bitcoin mining operations. According to the lawsuit, the company had skirted the rules requiring them to provide an Environment Impact Statement and had obtained approval for its construction through an ‘unlisted action’. 

The suit was also joined by local residents who also shared some of their concerns regarding the proposed expansion. The reasons range from the potential effects of the facility on the aquatic resources and local wildlife and the possible noise pollution. All of these could have an impact on the Finger Lakes, along with their reputation as a major recreational and tourist hotspot in the state. The Greenidge Generation plant is established in a nearby town, Dresden, and it has been operating for some time under the ownership of Atlas Holdings, a private equity firm. According to local news sources, the plant has been working under capacity and intermittently. 

There are more than 7,000 mining facilities in the plant, even though it is on the path of expansion. It was recently reported that Greenidge had applied for constructing and operating four new buildings, all of which will be filled with mining rigs. With this addition, it will be able to operate round the clock and at full capacity. The company has made an attempt to alleviate fears and in a board meeting in October, it said that they would continue to operate within federal and state governments’ environmental limits. 

The controversy surrounding Greenidge is once again highlighting the issue of the perceived hazards of Bitcoin against the environment. While the asset has been attracting a lot of mainstream attention, it has been attacked by many due to its environmental impacts. However, it should be noted that mining has become a lot cleaner over time. A study showed that almost 76% of Bitcoin miners had switched to some form of renewable energy. The call for clean energy is also going beyond mining facilities. Even if miners switch to renewables, it still wouldn’t be enough to reduce the footprint of the asset. The increase in renewables is a positive, but more would be needed in the long run.

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