On Jan. 13, environmental activists filed a lawsuit against the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) for approving a crypto mining facility in the state. The Guardian reports that in September 2022, the Public Service Commission (PSC) authorized the Fortistar North power plant to be converted into a cryptocurrency mining site.
The crypto mining facility is situated in Tonawanda, only a short drive from Niagara Falls. However, this facility was due to be acquired by Digihost – a respected Canadian crypto-mining firm.
Plaintiffs argue that the approval goes against the New York Climate Law of 2019
The plaintiffs argue that the approval breaches New York’s 2019 Climate Law. According to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), ambitious objectives have been set, such as achieving a reduction of 85% in statewide emissions by 2050 and zero-emissions electricity by 2040.
The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Sierra Club, represented by the non-profit firm Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit alleging that, compared to running during periods of high electricity demand such as extreme weather conditions, operating Fortistar plants as cryptocurrency mines would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions up to 3,000%, despite the site being operated 24 hours per day.
Environmental advocates forcefully insist that New York state officials conduct thorough environmental evaluations when examining projects.
In October 2021, a collective of local businesses sent an impassioned plea to the state government calling on them to reject the proposal for the power plant conversion into a crypto mining facility due to their concerns that:
Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency mining uses enormous amounts of energy to power the computers needed to conduct business — should this activity expand in New York, it could drastically undermine New York’s climate goals established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
According to public filings, Digihost is converting the facility to renewable natural gas to reduce its environmental footprint. Moreover, the North Tonawanda Planning Commission performed a series of intense ecological reviews before approving the proposed mining site.
Last month, Digihost divulged plans to relocate some of their mining rigs from New York to Alabama to reduce energy costs.