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Finger Lakes wineries call for crackdown on crypto mining


Finger Lakes winemakers are calling on Gov. Hochul to take action against a crypto mining operation they claim is threatening their livelihood.

Ian Thorsen McCarthy said he moved his winemaking operation from California to the Finger Lakes about a year and a half ago because of the tight-knit agricultural community and incredible natural resources.

"It's water, it's air, but it's also people coming to look at the view while they drink wine, to boat, to fish,” said McCarthy.

But now McCarthy and some of his fellow vineyard owners are concerned a local crypto mining operation, Greenidge Generation, poses a significant environmental risk.

Liz Moran, a New York policy advocate for EarthJustice, said the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied the company’s air permit renewal in June because the facility is not in line with the state’s climate goals.

"It's very simple,” said Moran. “Extending the life of fossil fuel power plants as New York tries to move away from fossil fuels entirely to meet our climate law just doesn't make sense."

Moran said Greenidge is still operating and expanding as it appeals the DEC’s decision. She, and other Seneca Lake advocates, are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on issuing air permits for fossil fuel power plants that house crypto mining operations. It would also direct the DEC to do an environmental review.

Co-owner of Billsboro Winery Vinny Aliperti said something needs to be done to protect local wineries.

“(Greenidge) just seems to kind of keep kicking the can down the road,” said Aliperti. “They’re just simply proven not to be a very good neighbor.”

In response to the criticism, Greenidge released a statement saying: “New day, same old lies. Opponents continue to peddle nothing but fear, but folks here know the reality — every piece of data shows the agrotourism business here is flourishing and that Greenidge is only creating positive impact, not negative, on our economy. This type of nonsense is why these opponents have lost every piece of litigation they’ve brought, and why nobody in our community takes these folks the least bit seriously.”

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.