Bitcoin miners align with fossil fuel firms, alarming environmentalists – NBC News

Bitcoin miners align with fossil fuel firms, alarming environmentalists – NBC News

Four years ago, the Scrubgrass power plant in Venango County, Pennsylvania, was on the brink of financial ruin as energy customers preferred to buy cheap natural gas or renewables. Then Scrubgrass pivoted to Bitcoin.

Today, through a holding company based in Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, called Stronghold Digital Mining that bought the plant, Scrubgrass burns enough coal waste to power about 1,800 cryptocurrency mining computers. These computers, known as miners, are packed into shipping containers next to the power plant, the company stated in documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of its initial public offering. Coal waste is a byproduct from decades of mining in the region, left behind in enormous black piles. Stronghold estimated that it’s currently burning about 600,000 tons of it per year at Scrubgrass.

According to the SEC filings, Stronghold plans to operate 57,000 miners by the end of 2022 — an expansion that requires buying up two additional coal waste power plants in the region.

What happened at Scrubgrass highlights a growing trend within the crypto world that alarms some environmentalists. Bitcoin mining is breathing new life into America’s aging fossil fuel power plants, creating a demand environmentalists say discourages investment in renewable energy sources at a time when shifting away from carbon-emitting sources of energy is essential.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology, essentially a shared database of transactions, where entries must be confirmed and encrypted. The network is secured by “miners” who use powerful computers to compete