And some cryptocurrencies are pure frauds. The losers are ill-informed buyers caught up in the spiral of greed. The result is a massive transfer of wealth from ordinary families to internet promoters. None of these claims are true. Means of Payment. Bitcoins are accepted almost nowhere, and some cryptocurrencies nowhere at all. Even where accepted, a currency whose value can swing 10 percent or more in a single day is useless as a means of payment. Store of Value. Extreme price volatility also makes bitcoin undesirable as a store of value.
And the storehouses — the cryptocurrency trading exchanges — are far less reliable and trustworthy than ordinary banks and brokers. Thing in Itself. A bitcoin has no intrinsic value. It only has value if people think other people will buy it for a higher price — the Greater Fool theory. Some cryptocurrencies, like Sweatcoin , which is redeemable for workout gear, are the equivalent of online coupons or frequent flier points — a purpose better served by simple promo codes than complex encryption.
Indeed, for the vast majority of uses, bitcoin has no role. Dollars, pounds, euros, yen and renminbi are better means of payment, stores of value and things in themselves. Cryptocurrency is best-suited for one use: Criminal activity. Because transactions can be anonymous — law enforcement cannot easily trace who buys and sells — its use is dominated by illegal endeavors.
Most heavy users of bitcoin are criminals, such as Silk Road and WannaCry ransomware. Too many bitcoin exchanges have experienced spectacular heists, such as NiceHash and Coincheck , or outright fraud, such as Mt. Gox and Bitfunder. Hackers are getting into the act. Even ordinary buyers are flouting the law. Tax law requires that every sale of cryptocurrency be recorded as a capital gain or loss and, of course, most bitcoin sellers fail to do so.
The IRS recently ordered one major exchange to produce records of every significant transaction. It stayed alive during a very difficult time when there was the Silk Road mess, when Mt. Gox stole all that Bitcoin Kirt said that after Greenidge took over the plant, it sought ways to earn higher returns on its surplus energy. It struck gold with bitcoin mining. During the 12 months that ended Feb.
Greenidge's owner, the private equity firm Atlas, is on a roll. Atlas bought the acre coal-fired Greenidge plant in , three years after it had closed. Converted to natural gas, the almost year-old plant began operations in , generating energy to the grid only at times of high demand. In , Greenidge began using the plant to power bitcoin mining and increased its output. It still supplies surplus power to the local electrical grid, but a lot of the power it generates is now used for bitcoin mining.
And it has plans for expansion at Greenidge and elsewhere, company documents show. Last week, Greenidge announced a new bitcoin mining operation at a retired printing plant Atlas owns in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In March, Greenidge said its Bitcoin mining capacity of 19 megawatts should reach 45 megawatts by December and may ramp to megawatts by as it replicates its model elsewhere.
Larger gas-fired plants in the U. Also in March, Greenidge announced a merger with Support. The deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, will give Atlas control of the merged company and access to public investor money. Andrew Bursky, founder of Atlas, owns half to three-quarters of Atlas, a regulatory filing shows.
Neither Atlas nor Bursky would comment for this article. Greenidge, which disputes that view, said last month that its operations would soon be carbon neutral. It is buying credits that offset the plant's emissions from an array of U. Judith Enck, a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency who is a senior fellow and visiting faculty member at Bennington College in Vermont, has doubts.
So far, legal challenges to the Greenidge operation have failed. Materials issued by Greenidge say state environmental authorities have determined that the plant "does not have a significant impact on the environment. Still, emissions from the plant are rocketing. At the end of last year, even though it was operating at only 13 percent capacity, the plant's carbon dioxide equivalent emissions totaled , tons, up from 28, tons in January, according to regulatory documents Earth Justice received under an open records request.
Before it began mining bitcoins, the plant generated carbon emissions of , tons in and 39, tons in , federal documents show. On June 5, residents staged a protest against the plant at a nearby Department of Environmental Conservation office in Avon. If regulators don't rein in the Greenidge plant, they say, 30 other power plants in New York could be converted to bitcoin mining, imperiling the state's emission-reduction goals.
As the greenhouse gas emissions associated with this type of facility may be precedential and have broader implications beyond New York's borders, DEC will consult with the U. Water usage by Greenidge is another problem, residents said. The current permit allows Greenidge to take in million gallons of water and discharge million gallons daily, at temperatures as high as degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 86 degrees in winter, documents show.
Rising water temperatures can stress fish and promote toxic algae blooms, the EPA says. A full thermal study hasn't been produced and won't be until , but residents protesting the plant say the lake is warmer with Greenidge operating. Greenidge recently published average discharged water temperatures from March 1 to April 17, during the trout spawning season; they were around 46 degrees to 54 degrees, with differences between inflow and outflow of 5 degrees to 7.
From June 7 to July 6, Greenidge said, water temperatures recorded at a buoy about 10 miles north of the Greenidge plant and at a depty of three-and-a-half feet have averaged The low of 61 degrees occurred on June 7 and the high of 73 was recorded on July 1. Over longer periods, temperatures have spiked, however. NBC News reviewed a February email from the DEC to a resident stating that since , the plant's daily maximum discharge temperatures have been 98 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in winter.
The Greenidge spokesperson said, "The limits already protect the lake's fishery and the public health, and they have been clearly validated as not concerning. Not everyone wants Greenidge gone. Gwen Chamberlain, a former local newspaper editor, is one of three members of a community advisory board working with Greenidge to advance the region's economy. Peter Mantius, a former journalist who writes about environmental politics in the region , said the payments, while greater than zero, are far less than what the plant once generated, thanks to a favorable tax assessment arrangement.
Meanwhile, residents like Buddington feel compelled to keep fighting. A former stockbroker, she won the Pulitzer Prize in for her "trenchant and incisive" reporting on Wall Street. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. NBC News Logo.
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