Crypto miner, Pennsylvania hit with lawsuit over pollution from bitcoin mine – Reuters

Crypto miner, Pennsylvania hit with lawsuit over pollution from bitcoin mine – Reuters

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A look at a U.S. crypto mine

Stronghold Digital Mining co-chairman and CEO Greg Beard stands near a bank of cryptocurrency miners at the Scrubgrass Plant in Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 8, 2022. Picture taken March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Alan Freed Purchase Licensing Rights, opens new tab

  • Lawsuit claims coal waste, old tires are burned to run mine
  • Community group is seeking damages, and injunctive relief

March 26 (Reuters) – An environmental community group on Tuesday sued Stronghold Digital Mining Inc

(SDIG.O), opens new tab

, claiming the company’s bitcoin mine in northeastern Pennsylvania that burns waste coal and old tires for energy is polluting nearby communities with dangerous chemicals.

The lawsuit by Save Carbon County filed in state court in Philadelphia, also names Pennsylvania as a defendant. The group, a nonprofit whose members live near the bitcoin mine, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the company, and an order directing the state to stop allowing the pollution to continue.

The group said Stronghold has created a public and private nuisance by releasing mercury into waterways and spewing harmful chemicals like sulfur dioxide into the air from an aging power plant it bought to power its energy-thirsty operations.

The state has issued permits allowing the pollution and subsidized the crypto-mine through tax incentives despite having an affirmative duty in the state constitution to protect the environment for its citizens, according to the lawsuit.

A Stronghold spokesperson said in a statement that its operations actually clean up land and water in the area by using waste coal left behind by historic coal production in the region.

“Stronghold’s facilities have cleaned up millions of tons of waste coal and reclaimed over 1,050 acres of once-blighted land, now sports fields, parks, and fishing spots for local communities,” the spokesperson said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declined to comment.

Cryptocurrency mining is a process that often uses large amounts of electricity for computing and cooling data processing centers, which perform complex math equations in order to secure cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

The University of Cambridge has estimated 38% of bitcoin produced globally is mined in the U.S., where the number of mines has exploded since 2021 when China banned cryptocurrency mining amid concerns the highly volatile digital currencies could undermine the stability of financial and monetary systems.

Environmental critics of the mining process note the facilities often rely on fossil fuel combustion for energy, which can act as a lifeline for old polluting power plants like the Panther Creek plant that Stronghold acquired in 2021.

The lawsuit is the first time Pennsylvania has been sued for violating the state’s constitutional provision guaranteeing citizens a right to a clean environment by permitting crypto mines, according to Aaron Freiwald, an attorney for the community group in Tuesday’s lawsuit.

The case is Save Carbon County v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 240302915

For the plaintiff group: Aaron Freiwald and Zachary Feinberg of Freiwald Law

For the state and company: Not yet available

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Reporting by Clark Mindock

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles., opens new tab

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