A New York bill to place a moratorium on reactivation of fossil-fuel power plants for crypto mining has now advanced to Full Assembly.
The new bill, reviewed on April 25 by the New York Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee, may progress to the New York Assembly floor as early as Thursday and, after that, the Senate. Supported by environmental lobby groups, the bill is relatively narrow in scope, as it only seeks to place a hold on off-grid bitcoin mining using fossil fuels.
Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Kelles defended the bill on Twitter, stating “My bill is not a ban on bitcoin. It’s not even a ban on cryptocurrency mining. It would not restrict the ability to buy, sell, invest, or use crypto in [the state].”
Nevertheless, crypto lobby groups such as the Blockchain Association are concerned that the new bill could force the migration of crypto employees to other states with friendlier environmental scrutiny. Disappointed in the progress of the bill, John Olsen, head of the New York state-focused arm of the Blockchain Association, said on April 25, “The industry itself is always working on new technology to improve emissions, to meet standards to capture wasted energy that would otherwise not be utilized, so it’s a bit of a blow to an industry that is very much looking to be here in New York.”
Foreshadowing a greater crypto mining clampdown?
Concerns are being raised that this bill spells the start of a broader clampdown on crypto mining in the state. “A two-year mining ban sends a really bad message to the blockchain industry, to crypto companies, to Web 3 Companies, that New York is saying, ‘You’re not welcome here,'” Olsen surmised. However, the bill places no restrictions on mining powered by New York’s abundant hydropower, such as that powered by the Niagra River, where electricity costs come in at a fraction of the average paid by American households.
An older bill proposing a three-year moratorium didn’t make it past the state Assembly last year, owing to opposition from the state’s electrical workers’ union.
The bill’s passage hinges on the outcome of an environmental study on the potential of such operations to hinder progress toward the climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by the year 2050.
If passed, the bill would present issues for Greenidge Generation, which has repurposed a once coal-fired plant in the Finger Lakes District into a natural gas facility to generate power for mining rigs. The company wouldn’t be immediately affected because of an outstanding air-quality renewal permit application but would be prevented from expanding. Similar companies would also be prevented from adopting similar business models.