OPINION

GUEST ESSAY: 'Greenidge is a remarkable success story for New York State'

Gwen Chamberlain

"Truthful, informed dialogue about our shared environmental challenges is something we all should welcome. Making uninformed, false claims cloaked as ‘advocacy’ is not something we should accept"

As someone who grew up in the Finger Lakes of New York and who still owns a cottage on Seneca Lake, I have been interested in the health and protection of the lake and its tributaries my entire adult life. 

Gwen Chamberlain

My earliest memories include watching trains with hundreds of coal cars rumble through our farmland, hoping someday they would no longer be part of our community. I was proud to serve as the former president of the Friends of the Outlet in Yates County, and care deeply about the quality of life in Upstate New York. I recently joined the team at Greenidge Generation in Dresden as a part time community advisor because I know the narrative that a select few have continually promoted about the facility’s environmental record is false — often demonstrably so.  Many others in the local community feel like I do. But some recent published reports reaching national audiences advance the falsehoods.

Allow me to share some of my perspective:

Greenidge is a remarkable success story for New York State.  A fully carbon neutral bitcoin mining operation in New York, creating dozens of high-paying tech jobs for residents, it operates in full compliance with its air and water permits and continues to provide much of its power to homes and businesses in our area, like on the hot days we have experienced recently. Its permits were issued after years of analysis by the State, designed to protect Seneca Lake and the public health.  

In May, Greenidge announced plans to invest a portion of its cryptocurrency mining profits in renewable energy projects, actively exploring direct financing of meaningful renewable energy initiatives in New York State and across the country.  

That record is why Greenidge enjoys broad support from local government, civic organizations, its Seneca Lake neighbors and the IBEW workers that partner with the company.   

The latest story worth refuting appeared on NBC News, where the very same claims about environmental crisis were made by those who have been opposing Greenidge for years, long before bitcoin mining existed. The suggestion that Greenidge is somehow destroying Seneca Lake due to bitcoin mining and is an impediment to New York’s important greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, is completely absurd.  

I would know. I live there. I have read the data.  

Truthful, informed dialogue about our shared environmental challenges is something we all should welcome. Making uninformed, false claims cloaked as ‘advocacy’ is not something we should accept. Having invested over $70 million in private capital, Greenidge and its owners have already reduced emissions at the facility by 75 percent and unlike other bitcoin mining operations, it utilizes only electricity it is already permitted to safely generate.  

When it comes to the Climate Leadership Community Protection Act (CLCPA), all it takes is some simple math.  Assuming Greenidge was running at full capacity 24/7/365, it would still account for less than 1% -- approximately 0.37% by its current estimate -- of the total statewide greenhouse gas target for the State in 2030.  

To suggest, as one advocate did in the NBC News piece, that the CLCPA is in grave danger due to 0.37% of the state’s emissions target coming from Greenidge is a stretch, even by their standards.  

As the data shows, Greenidge is not hurting the aquatic life in Seneca Lake. Greenidge doesn’t use lake water to cool any bitcoin computers and water discharge temperatures are published regularly.  In fact, temperatures published during this year’s trout spawning season show the average temperature was less than 50 degrees. Lt. Judson Peck, Retired NYS Environmental Conservation Police, said recently about that water usage, “A few rainbow trout will enter the Keuka Outlet to spawn in the spring.  Water temperature of this range would have ABSOLUTELY no adverse effect on the spawning fish.”

As a former news editor, I know that false claims and catchy headlines sometimes work. Personally, I prefer we stick to the facts, and give credit where credit is due.  

Greenidge’s comprehensive record of environmental stewardship and growing role as a job creator and vital economic engine for Upstate New York is not really in dispute anymore – among those of us who actually live here.  

Gwen Chamberlain