A crypto company in Pennsylvania wants to use burned tires to power their Bitcoin mining. People who live near the proposed tire-burning site are very upset about this.
Residents and environmentalists in Nesquehoning, a small town in the Poconos, are speaking out against the plan. Stronghold Digital Mining has asked for permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to burn tires for energy in their Bitcoin mining facility.
“I was shocked,” Carol Etheridge, who lives near Nesquehoning, told the British newspaper. “It’s terrible. I can’t even believe that people would be allowed to burn tires.”
Burning tires to make energy used to be allowed by the EPA as an alternative to regular fuels, but this information hasn’t been updated since 2016. Stronghold isn’t the first company to try this idea. In 2017, another company, Standard American Mining, tried something similar in North Carolina.
However, burning tires can be dangerous. It releases harmful chemicals like “furans,” which can cause cancer and are hard to break down in the environment.
Stronghold’s main focus, according to their website, is finding new uses for things like waste coal and now, old tires.
“There is no analysis for how [burning tires] will add to the existing burden of legacy pollution in the area,” Rob Altenburg of the environmentalist group PennFuture told The Guardian.
But local environmentalists say that both their waste coal projects and their plan to burn tires are bad for the environment. Charles McPhedran, a lawyer with the environmental group Earthjustice, has been speaking out against Stronghold. He says that burning tires should be a last resort.
Stronghold claims on their website that they are helping the environment, but McPhedran points out that emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide increased after they took over the Panther Creek Energy Facility in Nesquehoning. This used to be a coal mine, and now Stronghold wants to burn tires to power up to 15% of their operation. According to McPhedran, this is similar to burning coal for energy.
McPhedran and his group are now asking the state government to reject Stronghold’s request to burn tires.
“Panther Creek already poses a threat to Pennsylvania’s air quality,” McPhedran told the local Times News paper. “Considering tire-derived fuel introduces another issue.”