New York pauses most polluting crypto mining permits:
When New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law yesterday that halts a particularly filthy kind of cryptocurrency mining, efforts to reduce the pollution caused by the industry scored a significant victory. A two-year freeze on new permits for specific fossil fuel power stations looking to mine cryptocurrency is mandated by the law.
In one well-known instance, a failing gas plant in the Finger Lakes region of New York overcome financial difficulties by mining Bitcoin. Environmentalists thought the moratorium would stop any additional gas or coal plants from becoming cryptocurrency miners after they might have otherwise been forced to close.
The ban only applies to cryptocurrency mining that makes use of proof-of-work, which is the incredibly energy-intensive method used by Bitcoin to validate transactions. Because miners operate specialised hardware round-the-clock to add blocks of validated transactions to the blockchain and receive new tokens in exchange, Bitcoin consumes as much electricity annually as a small nation.
“A significant move for New York and the first of its sort in the nation.”
The new regulation in New York targets mining businesses that try to power that process using gas and coal facilities. It doesn’t control renewable energy miners or less-polluting validation methods used by blockchains like Ethereum. The bill requires the state to execute an environmental impact study on proof-of-work crypto mining in New York while the moratorium is in effect.
The state’s climate ambitions would be derailed, according to supporters of the measure, if fossil fuel power facilities start operating as cryptocurrency mining. Some locals were particularly concerned about the Greenidge Generating Station, a power plant in the Finger Lakes that mines bitcoins, due to its noise and potential effects on the Seneca Lake area’s environment and tourism. Early this year, state officials turned down Greenidge’s request for a renewed air permit. But even while it appeals the judgement, the factory can keep mining bitcoin. Greenidge is exempt from the new moratorium because it is already in place and operational.
The new regulation is the latest setback in the growing crypto winter, though. After China started to crack down on the business in 2021, New York soon emerged as a new centre for Bitcoin mining. Currently, it appears that the residence may only be temporary. Should the governor sign the measure, John Olsen, the New York state director for the business organisation Blockchain Association, predicted a “very quick flight of any miners that aren’t nearly totally dependant on renewable energy” in an interview with The Verge earlier this month.
“Any miners that aren’t virtually entirely dependent on renewable energy are leaving quite quickly.”
This year, the Blockchain Association spent almost $225,000 lobbying in Albany to try to stop the law Hochul just signed and advance substitute legislation. Thousands of dollars were also donated by association members to Hochul’s surprisingly effective campaign, which caused some environmentalists to worry that she could allow the measure to lapse. The legislation was enacted by the state legislature back in June, and Hochul had until the end of the year to sign it or reject it.
Thanks for setting an example for the rest of the nation and upholding New York’s climate legislation requirements, said Liz Moran, a New York policy advocate for the charity Earthjustice, in a statement released today. In order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 85% by 2050, New York State passed the Climate Act in 2019.