Carol Etheridge was shocked to learn about the use of burning tires as fuel for cryptocurrency mining in her neighborhood in Pennsylvania. The Panther Creek Power Plant, located near her home, has recently started operating cryptocurrency mining on-site. Etheridge expressed disbelief, stating, “It’s terrible. I can’t even believe that people would be allowed to burn tires.”

Another resident, Steve Chuckra, highlights the long-standing negligence of the Carbon County in addressing the environmental impacts caused by the power plant. He emphasizes the need to break free from this heritage of environmental neglect.

In 2021, Stronghold Digital Mining Inc. acquired Panther Creek for cryptocurrency generation. However, the power plant has already received multiple violations related to unpermitted air pollution. The company now aims to utilize waste tires as a new fuel source for its cryptocurrency mining operations.

A permit proposal has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) seeking permission to use tires as up to 15% of the plant’s fuel. Neighboring residents and environmental organizations are urging the DEP to reject the proposal, citing concerns about health hazards associated with tire burning.

The use of unconventional energy sources for cryptocurrency mining is driven by its profitability. However, the mining industry is notorious for its high energy consumption, leading to a search for the cheapest sources of energy.

Emissions Count at Large

The proper disposal of waste tires has long been an environmental concern due to the negative impacts associated with burning, burying, and grinding methods. Burning tires, in particular, results in harmful air pollution and the release of carcinogens and other pollutants that pose risks to human health and the environment.

Local residents, such as Linda Christman, argue that such practices should not be allowed in counties with high poverty rates. She highlights the need for environmental justice and opposes the burning of tires in Carbon County.

Some efforts have been made to promote greener practices in cryptocurrency mining, including the utilization of renewable energy sources. However, there are still debates and discrepancies regarding the energy intensity and environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

Legislation has been introduced to promote transparency and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by crypto miners. The focus should be on decarbonization and aligning the incentives of all stakeholders in the crypto industry.


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