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Advocates call on Hochul to quickly sign cryptocurrency mining moratorium into law

Greenidge.jpg
Vaughn Golden
/
WSKG
The Greenidge Generation plant in Torrey, NY

The future of the crypto mining industry In New York now sits on the desk of Gov. Kathy Hochul. State lawmakers approved a two-year moratorium on certain kinds of cryptocurrency mining, and supporters are calling on the governor to quickly sign it into law.

Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining is an extremely energy-intensive process that involves thousands of computers operating 24 hours a day, solving complex equations that ultimately mine bitcoin. Up to now, it’s been largely unregulated in New York, so the industry has brought mining operations to several areas of the state, including the Finger Lakes.

That has spurred opposition in the form of Seneca Lake Guardian, a coalition of business owners, environmental advocates, and lawmakers, fighting the growth of the industry that uses fossil fuels. Seneca Lake Guardian Vice President Yvonne Taylor said the legislation that would temporarily stop new and renewed permits of these operations in old fossil fuel-burning power plants, is in line with the state’s environmental policies.

"New Yorkers have sent a clear message to our governor. It’s unacceptable to re-fire up old fossil fuel plants in the middle of a climate crisis just to make fake money to make a few rich people richer," Taylor said.

State Assemblywoman Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) said another important part of this legislation would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to perform a full environmental impact assessment over the next year. The idea is to see exactly how these crypto mining operations affect the state’s ability to meet climate goals mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“This is about stepping away from any sort of emotional reaction, stepping away from the politics, stepping away from the big money lobbyists and getting the actual data,” said Kelles.

The issue has been fraught with politics. Hochul has taken donations from companies that operate or have clients with crypto mining concerns. Kelles said she is hopeful despite that, and she said she has gotten good feedback from the governor’s staff about it.

"They are very well aware, and the governor has made it clear that she is equally concerned about the energy consumptive practices that are proof of work,” Kelles said. “She is committed to the CLCPA. It is the law of the land in New York State. So I’m very optimistic.”

If Hochul signs it into law, it would be the first cryptocurrency mining moratorium approved in the U.S.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.