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Torrey Planning Board gives 4-1 ‘super’ approval needed to advance Greenidge bitcoin expansion

The Torrey Planning Board gave its blessing for a second time to Greenidge Generation to expand its bitcoin mining operation along Seneca Lake.

Earlier this year the Yates County Planning Board voted 5-3 against the site plan. While that vote was considered an ‘advisory’ opinion only- it did trigger a second vote, which required a ‘super majority’ or 4-1 approval to advance.

And that’s exactly what Greenidge received. The company said it was happy with the planning board’s decision to approve the plan. “We thank the Town of Torrey Planning Board for its strong vote of approval last night,” Greenidge President & CEO Dale Irwin said. “The Board’s professionalism during the process of considering our application was evident from day one, and it led to a result where the law, and the facts, were what mattered most.  This Site Plan approval is a key step in helping Greenidge continue to transform our former coal-fired facility into a truly best-in-class, vertically integrated power generation and Bitcoin mining operation. This project will not only operate squarely within our existing environmental permits and local ordinances but will produce more high-tech jobs, more tax revenues for our local governments and more dollars to local business through our partnership.  We’re finishing the process to start construction soon.”

Opponents of expansion have said that among other things, the water being discharged back into Seneca Lake through the Keuka Outlet is causing it to warm. Greenidge officials have pushed back against that claim- noting that they are in full-compliance with existing DEC permits.

In a letter Seneca Lake Guardian, an activist group that has been pushing against Greenidge’s advancements, they added the following:

“The magnitude of your decision on Greenidge goes far beyond the Town of Torrey and the weight upon you is great. You have a responsibility to consider what the negative impacts of Greenidge’s buildout of Bitcoin could mean not just for the Town of Torrey, but for all of us who depend on Seneca Lake, for the people of the Finger Lakes who rely on the very heart of our region remaining a healthy, productive tourist and agricultural center, for the State of NY in its endeavor to lead on climate change, and for the very planet in the midst of climate crisis. We urge you to do everything in your power to reject Greenidge’s site plan operation on the grounds that the build out of their private Bitcoin operations has the potential for increased Co2 and NOx air emissions, increased noise, increased discharges of hot water into tributaries that flow into Seneca Lake, and increased withdrawal of water from the lake (regardless of whether they’re permitted by DEC or not) and that these ramifications would cause harm to the Town, the Finger Lakes region, and NY State’s CLCPA goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the very least, you are fully within your legal rights to reject the site plan unless and until further studies are completed by Greenidge and thoroughly evaluated by the Town and the public.”

For its role, the state DEC issued the following statement regarding Greenidge’s operation:

“As part of DEC’s aggressive oversight of this facility and their compliance with our stringent regulatory requirements, DEC is closely monitoring the operations of Greenidge Generation, a bitcoin mining operation in Torrey, New York, and current proposals for its expansion. In addition to ensuring continued compliance with DEC’s current permits for the facility, DEC will ensure a comprehensive and transparent review of ​its proposed air permit renewals with a particular focus on the potential climate change impacts and consistency with the nation-leading emissions limits established in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. As the greenhouse gas emissions associated with this type of facility may be precedential and have broader implications beyond New York’s borders, DEC will consult with the U.S. EPA, the Climate Action Council, and others as we thoroughly evaluate​ the complex issues involved.”

That statement came before the controversial meeting in Torrey, where planning board members gave Greenidge the supermajority approval it needed.

After the company said it was going public- Greenidge contended that major expansions of its data mining center would take place.

Editor’s Note: Check back for more on this from Peter Mantius and The Water Front Online.