Texan Activists To Bitcoin Miners: Don’t Mess with Texas’ Water and Electricity
by Gigi Singh
October 27, 2023
In a resounding call to action, activists, environmentalists, and concerned Texans have come together for a week-long campaign aimed at challenging the environmental repercussions of the world's largest Bitcoin mining operation. This unified effort seeks to address the consequences of Bitcoin mining in the Lone Star State while advocating for transparency and accountability in the industry and by local politicians.
© Brittany Hallberg / Greenpeac
Corsicana, TX (October 27, 2023) — In a dynamic week of action, Greenpeace USA, the Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining, and Navarro County residents confronted Riot Platforms Bitcoin mining operations in Texas. The week of action shed light on Riot Platform’s impending launch of the world’s largest Bitcoin mining operation in Corsicana, Texas. This development threatens to exacerbate Texas’ already burdened energy grid and poses substantial environmental risks.
Jackie Sawicky, Founder of the Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining, said: “Bitcoin proof-of-waste ‘miners’ are wasting water, driving up our electricity bills, getting tax breaks, abatements, and deeply discounted energy. They get paid to shut down once the grid has destabilized, then they resell that cheap energy at a premium. Why on earth should every Texan pick up the tab for a digital casino that hardly any of us gamble in?”
Riot Platforms’ choice of Corsicana, Texas, as the site for their colossal Bitcoin mine is driven by several factors, including proximity to the Navarro switch, privileged access to already strained water sources, lenient regulations, cost-effective electricity, and enticing incentives offered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) through its Demand and Reserve Response programs. Through its participation in Demand Response, Riot is able to sell its deeply discounted energy back to Texans at a premium in times when electricity demand is high. This offers Riot substantial financial rewards at the expense of Texas ratepayers. The program has helped turn Texas into a hub for energy-intensive Bitcoin mining operations while Texans are urged to conserve energy and must contend with sky-high electricity bills.
Joshua Archer, Greenpeace USA Bitcoin Campaign Lead said: “We stand in solidarity with the Texans who are bravely raising their voices against Riot Platforms’ exploitation of their communities. This week of action embodies our collective determination to combat Bitcoin’s destructive impact on electricity grids, water resources, and the global climate.”
The protest on Wednesday lasted two hours in front of what will be the world’s largest Bitcoin mine owned by Riot Platforms. Multiple residents who were driving by engaged with protesters and supported the cause. Photos of the week available here.
Kimberlee Walter, Founder of Stand Up for Change: Navarro County said: “This week of action has provided a crucial platform for raising awareness and informing my fellow Navarro County residents about the absolute devastation the presence of Riot Platforms’ Bitcoin mining operation will have on all of us.”
Local politicians in Navarro County have been less than transparent about the Bitcoin mining activities in their community, rejecting requests for an official Town Hall meeting to address concerns raised by activists.
These concerns include:
- Excessive electricity consumption on an already stressed and unstable grid;
- Higher electricity bills for Texas ratepayers;
- Excessive water usage, in drought-prone Texas;
- Noise pollution; and
- Additional fossil fuel use at a time when we need rapid progress on emissions reduction.
The week of action included an unofficial Town Hall meeting on Tuesday hosted by the Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining (TCAC). Speakers included Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston; Adrian Shelley, the Texas office director of Public Citizen; and Jackie Sawicky from TCAC. It was moderated by Kimberlee Walter. Community members, officials from nearby districts, and journalists attended. For a recording of the Town Hall meeting please click here.
For a more in-depth look into Riot Platforms, the company behind the world’s largest Bitcoin mine, you can read a recent report put out by Greenpeace USA here.
Contact: Gujari Singh, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, [email protected], 631-404-9977
Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.greenpeace.org/usa.