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Activists call for Gov. Cuomo to deny Greenidge Generation permit

Organizations from across NY State, businesses, residents, and visitors to the Finger Lakes region are urging Governor Cuomo to direct his DEC to deny Greenidge Power Facility’s storm water permit and immediately revoke the existing air and SPDES permits for this facility’s power generation and use.

In separate letters signed by roughly 600 businesses and organizations, and nearly 700 individuals, concerns varied from compounding the incidence of Harmful Algal Blooms, noise that would detract from residents and visitors’ enjoyment of the area, stress to fish and other aquatic life in Seneca Lake, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenidge, a 1950s era relic of New York State’s past, is operating at less than half the efficiency of more modern natural gas power plants, and is a direct assault against the intent of Governor Cuomo’s nationally leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA- to reduce GHG levels to 85% by 2050). This previously mothballed coal burning plant along Seneca’s western shores was originally transitioned to burn natural gas and serve as a “peaker plant” for public use when additional energy was needed. Since getting approval, however, Atlas Holdings, Inc. has applied to expand its energy production not for public consumption, but to fuel their privately owned Bitcoin mining operation. If approved, the facility would generate enough energy to power 93,000 homes, emit more greenhouse gases than it has in the past 15 years, and evade Cuomo’s CLCPA requirements by operating ‘behind the meter’.

“Do we want to see this Bitcoin mining operation take advantage of this too-new-to-be-regulated maneuver along Seneca Lake?” said Abi Buddington, CTPFL Board Member. “It makes no sense to embrace a reckless, 70-year-old fossil fuel burning facility to power a Bitcoin mining operation in the heart of the Finger Lakes, and we do not think Governor Cuomo would support this.”

“Greenidge is discharging water at up to 108 degrees F. into the Keuka Outlet, which empties directly into Seneca Lake, which stresses trout and other cold water fish, and increases risks to spawning which occurs yearly in the stream,” said Kate Bartholomew, of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The hot water will increase incidences of Harmful Algal Blooms, exacerbating an already troublesome issue for the Finger Lakes. Furthermore, the system is not using protective measures to prevent fish, eggs, and other aquatic life from being killed at their water intake location.”

“Currently, 60-70% of all Bitcoin mining is done in China, but the Chinese are considering completely banning the activity as a waste of resources. Atlas is bringing this wasteful activity to Seneca Lake, and using an inefficient, old plant to do it. Yes, Atlas has devised a clever business idea, but it is bad for the Finger Lakes, it is bad for New York, and if left unchecked, could have implications for similar facilities owned in partnership with Atlas along the Hudson River and near Albany,”  said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President. Seneca Lake Guardian.

Signatories to the letter include hundreds of regional wineries, breweries, a myriad of agri-tourism related businesses, organizations including Seneca Lake Guardian, The Sierra Club,  People for a Healthy Environment, Coalition to Protect New York, Food and Water Watch, Hudson River Sloop, Clearwater Inc., Riverkeeper, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, Mothers Out Front, Tompkins, Environmental Justice Taskforce of the WNY Peace Center, NYPAN Environmental Committee, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County, FracTracker Alliance, New York Solar Energy Society, TIAA-Divest! from Climate Destruction, Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement, NY Water Action, and the Town of Geneva.