Is New York’s Seneca Lake Too Hot Because Of Bitcoin Mining? We Beg To Differ

Is New York’s Seneca Lake Too Hot Because Of Bitcoin Mining? We Beg To Differ

Legacy media is back at it. They had to concoct a rival story to counteract the Bitcoin Mining Council’s latest report. And they ran with the apparent rising temperatures of Seneca Lake. At its shores, an energy company is mining Bitcoin and a town is protesting. Or, as NBC News dramatically puts it, they’re using, “the fossil-fuel energy not to keep the lights on in surrounding towns but for the energy-intensive “mining” of bitcoins.

The thing is, the story doesn’t have a leg to stand on, but we’ll get there.

Natural Gas At Seneca Lake

First, let’s examine the way NBC spreads FUD all over the story:

At Greenidge, the computers operate 24/7, burning through an astounding amount of real energy, and producing real pollution, while collecting virtual currency.An estimate from the University of Cambridge says global bitcoin miners use more energy in a year than Chile. When the energy comes from fossil fuels, the process can add significantly to carbon emissions.

Of course, they omit that the “astounding amount of real energy” comes from natural gas. And that according to the US Energy Administration, “Burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy.” And that is natural gas is not consumed, it has to be “flared,” a process that really pollutes and doesn’t produce anything. By “anything,” we mean security and processing power for an anti-censorship, decentralized network that sends and receives value worldwide.

Much later on, NBC tries to sneak the information:

While natural gas-fired plants like Greenidge’s in New York aren’t as problematic as those that use coal, they still generate damaging greenhouse gases.

Flat Out, Are These Companies Breaking The Law?

Before admitting that Greenridge is not “as problematic,” NBC goes through a long diatribe about private equity firms like the one that owns the plant. They, “buy companies, often using debt, and hope to sell them later at a profit.” They try to make those companies look like the bad guy, and they might be, but, what does that has to do with Bitcoin mining? Are these companies breaking the law? Well…

Emissions from the plant are rocketing. At the end of last year, even though it was operating at only 13 percent capacity, the plant’s carbon dioxide equivalent emissions totaled 243,103 tons, up from 28,301 tons in January, according to regulatory documents Earth Justice received under an open records request. Before it began mining bitcoins, the plant generated carbon emissions of 119,304 tons in 2018 and 39,406 tons in 2019, federal documents show.

Here, we have to bring our expert witness. Bitcoin Magazine’s Level39 wrote a thread dismantling the mainstream media’s narrative.

The plant's activities are all within the limits set by its permits from the DEC and EPA, which determine how much water the plant can withdraw and discharge and at what temperatures, as well as the plant’s emissions limits.— Level39 (@level39) July 7, 2021

Not only does the plant have clear limits mandated by the government, but they’re operating between them. And, according to NBC’s own numbers, the plant’s output is variable and they’re just “operating at only 13 percent capacity.” What’s the problem here, exactly? The temperature, right? Well, those clear limits “determine how much water the plant can withdraw and discharge and at what temperatures.

Is Greenridge Discharging Too Much Hot Water In The Seneca Lake?

NBC continues:

Water usage by Greenidge is another problem, residents said. The current permit allows Greenidge to take in 139 million gallons of water and discharge 135 million gallons daily, at temperatures as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 86 degrees in winter, documents show.

Ok, those are the limits. Did the diabolical private equity firm force the plant to break the rules? Well…

Over longer periods, temperatures have spiked, however. NBC News reviewed a February email from the DEC to a resident stating that since 2017, the plant’s daily maximum discharge temperatures have been 98 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in winter.

That’s perfectly between the limits. What’s the problem here, exactly? Well, according to Level39 the illusion goes even further, “The latest FUD claims the residents say the plant has made the lake feel “like a hot tub.” No hard data is given. And never mind the Northeast US has had record setting heat waves the last few weeks.

Temperature Charts With Public Data

Anecdotal experience is one thing. Hard data is another:

Can't find data for 2020, but here's 2019— Level39 (@level39) July 7, 2021

2017 was so hot, it was off the charts.— Level39 (@level39) July 7, 2021

As we can see, 2016 and 2017 were significantly warmer years. While 2018 and 2019 were cooler years. Somehow the lake cooled for at leas two years, while the plant was purportedly operational.— Level39 (@level39) July 7, 2021

After these helpful charts, Level39 informs us that “Seneca Lake contains 3.81 cubic miles of water, which is 4.2 trillion gallons. 135 million gallons of discharge per day is 0.003% of the total lake’s volume.” That means that the amount of water Greenwidge can discharge is, “the equivalent of removing 2.25 drops from a gallon jug, warming those drops by about 7º and adding them back to the jug each day, and then claiming that it is causing the jug to feel too warm.

And to top it all off, Level39 offers a “thermal image of the lake:”

Finally, here's a thermal image of the lake. If the mining were actually a major factor in its warming, we'd expect to see red by the discharge area. Yet, there's no evidence it's a major source of heat.Source:— Level39 (@level39) July 7, 2021

Finally, Direct And Valid Criticism

Our aim here at Bitcoinist isn’t defending a power plant’s right to exist. Or even the right to mine Bitcoin, an activity in which anybody serious enough can participate. We’re letting all the community knows how the mainstream media operates. They attack their prey without compassion, obfuscating any fact in order to win. In order to transmit their quota of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

In the whole NBC article, there’s only one direct and valid criticism of the whole enterprise:

“These crypto operations are looking for anywhere that has relatively cheap power in a relatively cool climate,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, a nonprofit conservation advocacy. “It’s a horrible business model for all of New York state, the United States and for the planet.”

Oh Yvonne Taylor, if you only knew. Your lake is contributing to the most splendorous operation conceived by men. That’s not a “crypto operation,” it’s a Bitcoin operation. And Bitcoin is evolving into the force that will include millions of less fortunate people in the financial system. Progress takes energy, and a global-neutral-fair currency for everyone is well worth the effort.