New York Lawmakers Push to Curb Crypto Mining

New York state lawmakers recently passed the nation’s first statewide moratorium on the reuse of fossil fuel-burning power plants for crypto mining.

Now it’s up to Governor Kathy Hochul to decide whether or not to enact it.

“Miners” are computers that earn digital currency like bitcoin by solving tricky puzzles to verify new transactions.

They burn a lot of energy to do it.

Geneva, New York sits on the north end of Seneca Lake, a destination that draws visitors in droves, especially this time of year.

“Two glasses of Pinot Gris and a glass of what? Sauv cabin. Okay, I’ll serve you that,” said Vinny Aliperti, co-owner here at Billsboro Winery. He depends on those tourists to keep his business thriving. “We are a smaller winery. We produce around 4,000 boxes”.

But Aliperti is concerned that the region’s tourism industry is threatened by a nearby power plant that began mining crypto here two years ago.

The plant discharges warm water into the lake, which Aliperti says affects the grapes grown in the region.

“We’re seeing higher humidity levels, warmer overnight temperatures have really contributed a lot to more disease pressure in the vineyards,” he said.

The plant, located off the shore of Seneca Lake, was purchased in 2014 by a company called Greenidge Generation LLC. It runs on natural gas, a fossil fuel.

Lawmakers in New York just passed a two-year moratorium that would prevent crypto miners from repurposing plants like this. The state would use that time to study the industry’s impacts. Assemblywoman Anna Kelles sponsored the bill.

“Basically, he’s saying, don’t touch our fossil fuel-based power plants that are retired in New York state,” he said.

Although, existing facilities would be allowed to continue operating.

Kelles said the crypto industry’s intense energy use will make it harder for New York to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and achieve its climate goals.

“It seems like a misuse of our energy as a state,” he said.

But Greenidge operators said their emissions would make up 0.2% of the state’s climate emissions target for 2030. And the Blockchain Association’s John Olsen said restrictions like the moratorium could drive crypto investors and jobs away from New York.

“That sends a very negative signal to an industry that is basically being welcomed elsewhere,” he said.

Governor Hochul has until December to sign the bill into law.

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