New York PSC sued by environmental group upon approval of crypto mining facility

Key takeaways:

  • According to the plaintiffs, the permission is against the 2019 New York climate law.
  • The Canadian cryptocurrency mining company Digihost purchased the facility.

Environmentalists sued the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) on January 13 for allowing a bitcoin mining facility takeover in the state.

The state Public Service Commission, which oversees public utilities, approved the conversion of the Fortistar North power plant into a crypto-mining facility in September 2022, according to the public filing made available by EarthJustice.

The site was slated to be taken over by the Canadian cryptocurrency mining company Digihost and is situated in Tonawanda, a town less than 10 miles from Niagara Falls.

According to the plaintiffs, the 2019 New York climate law is violated by the approval. Among other goals, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) intends to achieve zero-emission electricity by 2040 and a statewide emission reduction of 85% by 2050.

The nonprofit Earthjustice represents the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Sierra Club in the complaint, which claims that the Fortistar plant was only operated when there was a high demand for energy, such as during severe weather. However, the location would operate around the clock as a crypto mining facility, producing up to 3,000% greater greenhouse gas emissions. 

Environmental reviews, according to activists, are required by New York state when considering projects. The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York’s executive director, Chris Murawski, stated:

“The PSC is failing in its role as a regulatory body to protect public health and to uphold the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Clean Air will continue to fight against the burning of fossil fuels to generate power for cryptocurrency mining, especially in residential areas like North Tonawanda,”

According to the documents, Digihost intended to switch the plant to renewable natural gas to lessen its environmental impact. The company added that the mining location was approved by the North Tonawanda planning committee, which conducts environmental assessments before making decisions.

In an effort to reduce energy expenses, Digihost also announced intentions to relocate a few of its mining equipment from New York to Alabama in August. 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.

Deep Dalal
Deep Dalal

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