New York State Senate Approves Bitcoin Mining Moratorium

The upper house of New York’s state legislature has passed a bill banning new Bitcoin mining permits for a period of two years.

The bill passed by the New York State Senate, by a vote of 36 to 27, had been approved by the state’s lower house, the Assembly, last month. The proposal now awaits approval from Governor Kathy Hochul, who has 10 days to either sign or veto the legislation.

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The recently approved bill would place a two-year moratorium on issuing new permits for cryptocurrency miners using carbon-based fuel. Any operation granted approval thereafter would also be subject to an environmental impact study, for the purpose of meeting climate goals established under a 2019 statute. Mining operations already underway or those undergoing the permit renewal process would be exempt from the ban.

Crypto mining debate

The development of this legislation has been keenly observed by both crypto industry groups and sustainability advocates, each at odds as to the precedent its approval would set. If New York’s governor signs the bill into law, it would be among the most significant restrictions in the US on energy-intensive practices. This stands in stark contrast to policies in states such as Texas and Georgia, which have been courting companies to relocate with tax benefits and less restrictive regulations.

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Due to its cheap hydroelectric energy sources, New York has long been considered an appealing place for cryptocurrency mining operations. Additionally, firms had also repurposed old coal and gas-powered facilities for that purpose. However, local legislators and environmental groups have recently augmented their vocal opposition to Bitcoin mining in the state. 

Legislators at a national level have also weighed in on the crypto mining debate. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has raised concerns over the energy usage and environmental impact of Bitcoin mining. Meanwhile, a comprehensive bill underway from New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis, is also set to include an analysis of the environmental impact of energy consumption from crypto mining.

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