In the heart of Pennsylvania, a crypto-mining venture is making headlines, but all for the wrong reasons. Stronghold Digital Mining, a company delving into the world of cryptocurrencies, has sparked outrage among local residents and environmental groups with its ambitious plan to burn tires as a fuel source for Bitcoin mining.
The Unconventional Energy Source
According to The Guardian, Stronghold Digital Mining’s strategy deviates significantly from traditional power sources. Instead of relying on conventional energy grids or sustainable alternatives, the company is venturing into uncharted territory by considering the incineration of discarded tires to fuel its Bitcoin mining operations.
While the concept might seem innovative, it has raised numerous eyebrows within the community and the environmental advocacy sector.
Bitcoin Mining’s Energy Appetite
Stronghold Digital Mining initially made waves in 2021 when it acquired the Panther Creek power plant in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, to harness coal waste as a cheap energy source for its cryptocurrency mining. This approach has been met with significant controversy though.
Although the removal of coal waste has the potential to remediate contaminated land, it comes at the cost of emitting greenhouse gases and harmful chemicals. Additionally, it requires twice as much waste coal to produce the same energy output as regular coal.
The Tire-Derived Fuel Debate
Stronghold’s latest proposal involves incorporating tire-derived fuel, composed of shredded vehicle tires, into its energy mix to enhance the efficiency of burning waste coal. This decision has faced significant backlash, especially considering the potential health hazards associated with tire combustion.
The source noted that burning tires can release dioxins and furans, toxic chemicals linked to cancer and known for their persistence in the environment. Furthermore, the process can produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several of which are carcinogenic. This addition to Stronghold’s energy mix has raised concerns about the potential exacerbation of existing pollution in the area.
Local and Environmental Concerns
The Panther Creek plant is situated within two miles of communities that the state has classified as environmental justice areas, intensifying the local residents’ concerns. Both residents of Carbon County and environmental groups have voiced their apprehensions by sending letters of concern to the county commissioner and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Stronghold Digital Mining has already received seven violations from the DEP for not adhering to emissions standards. Despite these violations, the company maintains that it employs the “best available control technology for air pollution controls.” They also argue that their operations have helped reclaim over 1,050 acres of previously unusable land, preventing further pollution of waterways and atmospheric emissions without adequate controls.
The Ongoing Debate
In the midst of this controversy lies a vigorous local debate regarding the environmental soundness of burning coal waste. The question of whether it should remain in place to avoid leaching toxins into the environment remains a contentious issue.
Carol Etheridge, a resident living in close proximity to the Bitcoin miner in question, succinctly encapsulates the prevailing sentiment within the community. She firmly asserts that the idea of using tire combustion to power Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies has no tangible benefits to the local populace.
As the Stronghold Digital Mining saga unfolds, it underscores the delicate balance between profit-seeking enterprises and environmental responsibility. The outcome of this debate will undoubtedly impact the future of Bitcoin mining and its relationship with the environment.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.