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NY advocates applaud first crypto mining moratorium in the U.S.

Vaughn Golden

New York has the first crypto mining moratorium law on the books in the nation. Environmental advocates are applauding Gov. Kathy Hochul's signing of legislation late last week that puts a two-year pause on new and renewed air permits for possible fuel power plants that house cryptocurrency mining.

State Assembly member Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) applauded the historic legislation. But she said more needs to be done, especially shutting down existing cryptominers, including Greenidge Generation on the shores of Seneca Lake.

"It is critical for the state to fight against the air permit appeal by Greenidge, and deny the water permit, to end the extension they have, and protect one of the critical natural resources we have in the state," Kelles said.

Kelles believes this may be the beginning of a wave of regulation for these crypto mining companies.

"There are environmental groups in other states that have been watching what we are doing in New York State and are interested in fighting back," Kelles said. "Specifically in fighting back the practices we’ve noted. So I don’t think this is a situation where New York is the only one fighting against the environmental impacts.”

Kelles says one other important piece of the legislation requires the State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct studies to determine the impact the crypto miners have on the environment. This legislation doesn’t impact the Greenridge mining operation on Seneca Lake, and Kelles would also like to see the Hochul administration take steps to shut that down.

Finger Lakes wineries are also calling on the governor to consider stopping Greenidge from operating, because of the disruptions massive emissions have on the agricultural industry.

Billsboro Winery co-owner Vinny Aliperti said he lives very close to the Greenidge facility.

"Heavy rainfall, more humidity, warmer evenings, these are all things we’ve been seeing locally," said Aliperti. "Invasive pests are now encroaching on the Finger Lakes. Small changes in temperature and humidity really impact not only grapes, but the entire suite of agricultural products the Finger Lakes generate."

Advocates are also pleased the legislation requires the State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a study into the environmental impacts of cryptomining. And while it may be the first law of it’s kind in the country, Seneca Lake Guardian Vice-President Yvonne Taylor hopes it’s not the last.

"This cannot be a town by town or state by state fight," said Taylor. "We need our federal decision makers to act and to act now, to get federal regulations on the books for this industry."

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.