New York Legislators Pass Bill to Limit Cryptocurrency Mining Operations Burning Fossil Fuels.
New York legislators have enacted a landmark environmental bill aimed at slowing the growth of bitcoin mining businesses that use fossil fuels.
Both advocates and opponents claim that the widely watched law, which passed the state Senate early Friday, is the first of its sort in the United States.
If it becomes law, it would establish a two-year moratorium on new and renewed air permits for fossil fuel power plants used for energy-intensive “proof-of-work” cryptocurrency mining — a term for the computational process that records and secures transactions in bitcoin and similar forms of digital money. Proof-of-work is the blockchain-based algorithm used by bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies. (Bitcoin price in India at 11:34am on June 4 was Rs. 24,37,492)
Environmentalists are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the legislation. They say the state is undermining its long-term climate goals by letting cryptomining operations run their own natural gas-burning power plants.
“We cannot be re-powering fossil fuel power plants for the purposes of private gain in New York, especially as we’re looking to move away from fossil fuels entirely,” said Liz Moran of Earthjustice.
Dozens of fossil fuel plants in New York could potentially be converted into mining operations, she said.
Cryptocurrency advocates complained that the measure singled out the industry without addressing other fossil fuel use. They argue that the legislation would crimp economic development in New York while other states court the burgeoning field.
“The message from the bill and the embrace of that kind of policy is not a good one for an industry that really can go anywhere,” said John Olsen of The Blockchain Association, an industry group.
“We’re very hopeful that the governor realises that the long-term benefits of embracing this industry and this technology far outweigh a potential pause on prospective future emissions,” he added.
Hochul, a Democrat, has said that any law must strike a balance between economic and environmental considerations.
Cryptocurrency mining necessitates the use of sophisticated computers that burn a lot of power. According to the US Energy Information Administration, as of November 2018, bitcoin’s yearly power use was similar to Hong Kong’s in 2019. Some miners are exploring for methods to lessen their dependency on fossil fuels for energy production.
Greenidge Generation near the Finger Lakes, which also generates power for the state’s energy system, has been urged by a coalition of environmental organizations to have its air permit renewed by the Hochul government. It’s possible that a decision will be made before the end of the month.
If enacted into law, the moratorium would have no effect on pending applications, such as Greenidge’s.
The bill also calls for an environmental impact evaluation of how crypto mining impacts the state’s capacity to accomplish its climate objectives by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The law was approved by the Assembly, the lower body of the Legislature, in April.
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