In an effort to balance the state's priorities of economic development and following through on climate goals, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has finally signed the first in the nation temporary moratorium on proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining.
This will instate a two-year pause on future fossil fuel intensive crypto-mining operations and initiate a study by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to track the impact cryptocurrency mining has on the environment. This is happening at a time when the cryptocurrency market appears to be crashing, which is pushing the market — and those invested in it — into an even more precarious position.
Governor Hochul was reluctant to sign the bill leading up to Election Day, but a combination of her electoral victory and unrelenting pressure from groups like Seneca Lake Guardian and legislators like Assembly Member Anna Kelles — who sponsored the bill in the Assembly — have pushed the Governor to approve the moratorium.
Following the announcement that the bill was signed into law Assembly Member Kelles tweeted, “Thank you Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the crypto moratorium into law! This is a huge win for our planet and a sign that New York is not afraid to lead the nation in our climate policy.”
After signing the bill Governor Hochul said, “I am signing this legislation into law to build on New York’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, while also continuing our steadfast efforts to support economic development and job creation in upstate New York.”
Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian, Yvonne Taylor has also thanked the Governor for singing the moratorium into law. Taylor said, “The crypto industry is going to whine that this is a blow, but it’s not.”
While businesses invested in cryptocurrency mining have ripped the Governor for signing the moratorium, the bill is extremely narrow in scope as it won’t affect the “roughly dozen operations that draw power from the grid” according to Politico. Additionally, the moratorium does not apply if the company has already filed paperwork to operate in New York — so operations like the Greenidge crypto-mining facility won’t be impacted by the decision.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Greenidge facility is one of the largest proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations in the country. By March 2020, the plant was reportedly using over 14 megawatts of power — enough to power roughly 9,000 homes — to mine around $50,000 worth of Bitcoin per day.
Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining — which bitcoin uses — is an extremely energy-intensive process that requires thousands of computers operating nonstop to solve complex equations to mine more cryptocurrency. Each one of these computers requires energy to run, plus more energy to run cooling technology that prevents the computers from overheating.
According to a recent Seneca Lake Guardian press release, “Globally, proof-of-work bitcoin mining uses the same amount of energy each year as the entire country of Argentina. It produces 30,700 metric tons of e-waste each year, comparable to the yearly IT equipment waste of the Netherlands.” It continues saying, “If left unregulated, the industry will wreak irrevocable harm on the entire state of New York, making it impossible to reach New York’s crucial climate goals as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.”