Getting the Priorities Right

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Human beings might be the smartest species to ever walk the earth, but that hasn’t kept us from committing mistakes time and time again. Now, you can argue how these mistakes actually do a lot in making us better over time, and honestly, it’s a fair argument too. However, if we assess the picture in hindsight, we’ll realize how some of our mistakes can also go on to cause irreparable damage along the way. With such a possibility in play, you would naturally want to have some sort of a defensive cover, The world, on its part, will find that cover once it brings dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, considering it instantly compensated for a lot of our flaws, but unfortunately enough; the utopia didn’t last very long. You see, as soon as technology took over the scene, it gave people an unprecedented chance to find and exploit other people’s missteps, while having to face no consequences whatsoever for doing so. The said dynamic expectantly undermined our entire progress. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the last punch in this back-and-forth. The regulatory bodies will make a comeback, and the traces of that have been wholly evident in some recent cases. In fact, a particular blow to bitcoin mining community only does more to back the power shift up.

New York state has officially denied Greenidge Generating Station’s application for a new air permit, citing climate goals as the primary reason behind it. Greenidge Generating Station, which is located in Finger Lakes region, started off as coal-powered power plant that used to spring into action whenever the grid would require extra electricity. It is still very much in on the said function, but since 2020, the plant has focused rather extensively upon bitcoin mining. The switch interestingly came just one year after New York announced its intention of reducing carbon emissions by around 85 percent over the next few decades. It will waste no time in sparking concerns about long-term environmental consequences. While the plant operators did try to ease these concerns by explaining how the plant was actually carbon neutral, as the company running it was paying for carbon offsets, but the reassurances were evidently not enough.

The state’s refusal to give Greenidge its air permit is New York’s second major decision of the month in terms of keeping climate goals above the lucrative cryptocurrency operation. Earlier, we saw the state passing a bill, which is designed to set a two-year moratorium on new permits for fossil fuel power plants that are used to mine Bitcoin and various other energy-hungry cryptocurrencies.

“This is step one in addressing energy consumption and climate concerns with crypto mining, and we’re still looking to the governor to sign legislation that will address this issue more broadly. But for today, we celebrate,” says Elizabeth Moran, a policy advocate for nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice.

Notably, the decision won’t force Greenidge to close immediately. It can still function under an active Title V Air Permit, and as for the approval in question, the company will appeal the decision soon.

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