Governor Kathy Hochul signed the first cryptocurrency mining moratorium in the United States. The moratorium will place a two-year ban on granting air permits for virtual mining. This method of creating additional coins for the cryptocurrency market makes use of powerful computers that use a lot of electricity. This use of large amounts of electricity generated through the use of fossil fuels is a danger to the environment. The moratorium prevents cryptocurrency companies from moving into abandoned energy facilities and also calls for a study of the environmental impact that mining has. According to the University of Cambridge, the global mining of bitcoin uses more electricity than all the TVs in the U.S.
Assemblymember Anna Kelles sponsored the bill enabling the moratorium. Though the bill had been passed in June, Governor Hochul only signed it recently. “This bill will create the pause we need in the current trend of purchasing old power plants in New York for corporate profits and allow us to properly evaluate the impact of this industry on our climate goals before it’s too late,” said Kelles. The bill will also prevent cryptocurrency mining operations from buying and repairing 50 abandoned fossil fuel power plants found across New York State. According to Anthony Ingraffea, if those power plants were to operate, an additional 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and methane would be spewed into the air.
“Cryptocurrency mining is one of the most unregulated, energy-intensive industries in New York state right now,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “This legislation will protect our health and environment by closing industry loopholes that undermine the zero-emissions mandate in our landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.”
However, the bill was criticized by those in favor of cryptocurrency and the benefits they feel it brings. “Some [virtual currency companies have] already written New York off just based on the introductions of legislation like that,” said John Olsen, leader of the New York Blockchain Association. “It didn’t even have to rise to the level of being chaptered.”
Cryptocurrency has not had the best of recent times. According to CNBC, the cryptocurrency market has lost about $2 trillion worth of its value. FTX, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency companies, collapsed and filed for bankruptcy. However, Mayor Eric Adams, who is a fan of cryptocurrencies, stated he continued believing in them despite the decline. “These industries are not going to go away because they reached a low point,” he said. “This is an industry that we must embrace.”