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Advocates, residents raise concerns over North Tonawanda cryptocurrency mining company

north tonawanda cryptocurrency protesters
Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 16, 2022

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Advocates for clean air and North Tonawanda residents gathered on Friday morning to voice their concerns over a Public Service Commission (PSC) decision.

The group's protest in Downtown Buffalo comes one day after the PSC allowed Digihost Technology to buy Fortistar Gas Power Plant on Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda.

Digihost, a blockchain mining company, has been in the area for about one year now and North Tonawanda resident Deborah Gondek said her community is suffering as a result.

"We're extremely disappointed in the Public Service Commission's decision to allow a public utility to be used to power bitcoin mining," Gondek said.

Gondek said the plant is impacting her quality of life.

"The noise is the most apparent issue but like I said the greenhouse gas emission the electronic waste that'll be generated," she added.

Right now, the plant isn't running at full capacity, according to city Mayor Austin Tylec, but Bridge Rauch an environmental justice organizer with Clean Air Coalition of Western New York said the new bitcoin mining plant would eventually operate 24/7, 365 days a year which would burning natural gas around the clock.

"So that's tons and tons of extra carbon emission in the atmosphere that's extra pollutants they're gonna hurt the public health," Rauch said.

Now, the coalition and neighbors are joining forces and demanding change. The group is even calling on Governor Kathy Hochul and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation to step in.

"We need our regulators to step up and be bold and be willing to fight for the CLCPA and for our communities and like our entire climate," Rauch said.

This group is urging the governor to sign bill, A7389C/S6486D that would place a two-year moratorium on crypto-mining.

"Cryptocurrency mining, that is one of the 1,007 bills that have been on my desk. We've had a lot to do so I'll be reviewing all the positions for and against and have a chance to evaluate that in the next couple of weeks, couple of months," said Gov. Hochul.

Regardless, this a fight, Gondek said, is one she will not abandon.

"We're here to raise awareness about this not just for the state, but for the country," she said.

7 News did reach out to Digihost Technology, but have yet to hear back.