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Yates Recommends Disapproval of Greenidge Bitcoin Expansion

02/25/2021 2:28 PM | Kaitlin Fello

Yates Recommends Disapproval of Greenidge Bitcoin Expansion

Jacob Welch, President, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

In a five to three with one abstention vote, the Yates County Planning Board recommended disapproval of Greenidge's bid to expand its Bitcoin mining operation in Dresden, New York, on the basis that the expansion would not be in the best interest of Yates County.

Some 140 letters and emails in opposition were received before the meeting. “That's a record” said Daniel Long, Yates County Planner. The meeting was attended by Pure Waters President Jacob Welch, Joseph Campbell of Seneca Guardian and Mary Ann Kowalski of the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, among over 60 community members. All three environmental leaders spoke in opposition to the expansion which, even today, still lacks any environmental study to verify that the allowed 134,000,000 gallons per day of water and allowed warming of up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit does not have an adverse environmental impact. DEC regulations only allow for 70 degree Fahrenheit discharges into trout streams. Keuka outlet, which absorbs the discharge and at a place close to Seneca Lake, is so categorized.

Attorney Kevin McAuliffe, of the Barclay Damon law firm, spoke on behalf of Greenidge. He indicated that the facility, inclusive of the proposed expansion, would discharge warmed water well within "parameters established" by the DEC. Pure Waters President, Jacob Welch, retorted that the 134 MGD/108 degree allowances were established in 2017 and under a specific DEC plan that a thermal study would also have to be conducted by Greenidge. That was at a time when Greenidge was supplying power to the grid and therefore subject to lightened regulatory standards. Welch also alluded to a more recent Greenidge letter advising that its environmental study would not be finalized until the Spring or early Summer of 2022. Mr. Welch also brought to the board's attention that there was still a lack of proper fish screens on the water intake even after these many years.

The County Planning Board’s disapproval recommendation of the expansion sends the matter back to the Town of Torrey Planning Board. Pursuant to General Municipal Law 239, the five member board must renew its look into matters and, based on the County recommendation, now pass the measure by a majority plus one vote. Seneca Pure Waters will continue to oppose the expansion until such time that engineer based studies and proper measures are in place to preserve and protect our lakes environment.

Bitcoin prices have recently been priced over $34,000 a piece. Electrical generation facilities are to implement best available technology standards when affordable. Based on what appears to be astronomical profits being made daily at the plant, cooling towers as well as proper fish screens should be implemented. Greenidge is also a subsidiary of Atlas Holdings, a multi -billion dollar holding company.

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