Group files complaint against bitcoin mining site NT | Local News

A local group of North Tonawanda residents are filing a lawsuit against the city to address the lack of accountability, credibility and transparency in Digihost’s proposed bitcoin mining project for the Fortistar power station on Erie Avenue.

According to a statement on the lawsuit, last summer residents discovered that Digihost, a Canadian bitcoin mining company, was actively pursuing the purchase of the Fortistar natural gas and steam plant. Digihost plans to use 100% of the energy generated at this site to complete “proof-of-work” cryptocurrency mining.

On August 17, 2021, the North Tonawanda City Joint Council met to decide whether to proceed with the public hearing process to vote on the proposed moratorium on Bitcoin mining and the blockchain authentication. At the meeting, NT Alderman Austin Tylec recommended a three-month moratorium to better understand the unique aspects of this industry, assess environmental concerns, and complete all federal, state review processes. and premises required.

“Pausing this project to take the time to gather details and gain a full understanding of operations would give us time to fully assess the potential impacts on the Town of North Tonawanda and members of our community. It is our responsibility to exercise due diligence, ”noted Tylec, the release said. A request for a public hearing from Tylec was supported by Council member DiBernardo, but ultimately rejected by the Council majority Pecoraro, Zadzilka and Schmigel.

Said Deborah Gondek, a resident of northern Tonawanda, one of the petitioners in the lawsuit, “This project deserves further consideration because the cryptocurrency industry is quite new and unregulated. The specific type of mining of bitcoins that Digihost will lead has unique issues that need to be addressed. Therefore, on behalf of residents concerned about the zoning implications, negative environmental impacts and lack of transparency, we are filing a Section 78 proceeding for contest the NT town planning council’s decision to approve this project.

A request for a three-month moratorium seemed reasonable since earlier in 2021, when the joint council faced a problem with booming energy production (installing solar panels), the council unanimously adopted a moratorium of six months to “give council the time and capacity to perform all reasonable and necessary reviews and, if warranted, to make revisions to the City of North Tonawanda Zoning Code as necessary to promote and maintain health, safety and well-being of the town of North Tonawanda and its citizens ”.

Unfortunately for the people of North Tonawanda, the Council rejected Tylec’s recommendation for a similar moratorium on bitcoin mining in August.

According to the statement, Sil Dan, Jr. lives behind the Fortistar factory and is one of the petitioners. “Our local government has a duty to study the costs and benefits of proposals like this, and then communicate transparently so that the community of northern Tonawanda can make informed decisions about where to allocate our resources and how to use it. planning for our future. By ignoring federal, state and local laws and regulations, we give in to companies trying to exploit our city’s resources. Citizens have the right to active community participation in planning and zoning decisions, public authorization hearings and freedom of information. We hope that this lawsuit will generate more support for increased transparency and accountability in local government and ensure that environmental, health and safety considerations are seriously taken into account when making decisions. “

It is also noted that NT Joint Council Chairman Bob Pecoraro has offered enthusiastic support for this project ahead of the review process – a period during which elected officials should maintain a neutral position until all the facts are met. have been verified. Sensing a potential conflict of interest, residents and concerned organizations such as the Clean Air Coalition, Sierra Club, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and Earthjustice submitted written comments to the NT Planning Council and the City Engineer.

“We expected that these concerns would be fully considered and addressed before the Planning Council vote on September 8. However, a full environmental assessment has not yet been conducted, so we still do not have information on the impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, potential fire hazards. , noise levels and e-waste management, ”said Darlene Bolsover, whose family lives near the Fortistar site.

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