The approval violates the New York climate law of 2019, plaintiffs claim. The facility was acquired by the Canadian crypto mining firm Digihost.
The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) was sued by environmental activists on Jan. 13 for approving the takeover of a cryptocurrency mining facility in the state.
According to The Guardian, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) is responsible for regulating public utilities, and authorized in September 2022 the conversion of the Fortistar North power plant into a crypto mining site.
The facility is located in Tonawanda, a city less than ten miles from Niagara Falls, and was set to be taken over by the Canadian crypto mining firm Digihost.
Plaintiffs claim that the approval violates New York’s climate law of 2019. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) sets the goal of reducing 85% in statewide emissions by 2050, and zero-emissions electricity by 2040, among other targets.
In the lawsuit, the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Sierra Club are represented by the non-profit Earthjustice, claiming that the Fortistar plant was only operated during periods of high demand for electricity, such as extreme weather conditions. As a crypto mining plant, however, the site would be running 24 hours a day, generating up to 3,000% more greenhouse gas emissions.
Activists argue that the New York state must conduct environmental reviews when examining projects.
In October 2021, a letter from a group of local business requested the state to deny the power plant conversion to a crypto mining facility, claiming 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 planned to convert the facility to renewable natural gas to reduce its environmental impact. The company also noted that the mining site was approved by the North Tonawanda planning commission, which performs environmental reviews before making decisions.
In August, Digihost also disclosed plans to move part of its mining rigs from New York to Alabama in an effort to lower energy costs, Cointelegraph reported.
Digihost did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.