DEC under fire for granting license extension to Greenidge bitcoin facility

DRESDEN, NY (WETM) – Controversy over a cryptocurrency mining plant along Seneca Lake continues as those opposed to the plant claim the NY DEC pulled a “bait and switch from 11 am” to extend deadlines for factory projects that would help protect wildlife in the lake. But the agency and the company say both parties followed the agreed deadlines and the proper procedure.

At a press conference on October 3, 2022, Seneca Lake Guardian, Assemblywoman Anna Kelles, and winery owner Vinny Aliperti joined in calling for the DEC to grant the extension. The DEC originally set September 30, 2022 as the deadline for Greenidge to install screens on its intake pipe at Seneca Lake.

At the press conference, Kelles said the intake pipe sucks up more than 130 million gallons of water every day. Without screens in place, Kelles said it harms wildlife and the food chain – even down to the cellular level – in the lake. The group also said Greenidge pumps water into Seneca Lake at temperatures over 100 degrees, potentially creating toxic algal blooms that would harm drinking water coming out of the lake.

SLG and Kelles called out the DEC for quietly changing the permit just days before it expired. Greenidge applied for wired screen clearance in March 2022, but the group said the company had five years to do so, Seneca Lake Guardian said.

Greenidge told 18 News that the amount of work, research, study and paperwork involved in implementing the screens prevented the company from seeking approval sooner, as it can take years between submission. first plans and the actual installation. Both DEC and Greenidge have said the company is prohibited from doing any work on the screens until it gets state clearance.

In response to SLG’s frustration, the DEC said that on September 27 it issued permits to Greenidge to install the displays and, at the same time, amended the company’s license to allow until January 20, 2023 to the installation and only the installation. The agency explained that the clearance fell on Sept. 27 because DEC and Greenidge followed appropriate timelines and dates for public comment and pending state clearance.

Greenidge’s global water license was due to expire on September 30 and the company applied for a renewal months ago, the DEC said. However, the agency said it granted the extension regardless of Greenidge’s renewal request; thus, the extension relates only to the installation of the mesh screens, and not to the permit as a whole.

Greenidge is permitted to continue operating while the renewal application is under review and until a decision is made by the DEC

“DEC’s latest decision is inconsistent, irrational and undemocratic,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Those of us who live with the daily threats of Greenidge should be heard in this process, not just the Connecticut-based speculators who are desperate to extract as much money from the Finger Lakes as possible.

The DEC said it would continue to require Greenidge compliance for all permit applications “to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.”

DEC continues to require compliance with all permits while work at Greenidge Generating, LLC is underway to ensure the continued protection of Seneca Lake, including enhanced protections for fish and fish habitat. CED subjects all environmental permit applications to a transparent and rigorous review process to protect public health and the environment. As such, the facility is required under its existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit to install corner screens at the facility to prevent fish kills.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Greenidge said he continually worked closely with the DEC to meet deadlines and follow proper procedures. He also said he was ready to install the screens and will meet the January 2023 deadline.

In a statement, Greenidge said: “We have worked constantly to ensure that Seneca Lake, which our team appreciates and enjoys as much as anyone else, and its aquatic life are fully protected. Our application was submitted in March and we are awaiting final regulatory approvals for this project; we will quickly complete the installation of our screens upon receipt of these approvals. »

In June 2022, New York State denied a Title V air permit for the facility. Kelles said Greenidge is currently appealing that decision but is allowed to remain open.

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