A New York bill has proposed a three-year ban on Bitcoin mining centers in the state — enough time for a full environmental impact review.
New York Senate bill 6486 moves to ensure the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation conducts that review to “conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment.”
If passed, the bill (put forth on May 3) would effectively force New York to:
- Investigate greenhouse gas emissions caused by crypto mining.
- Assess Bitcoin miner effects on wildlife, water, and air quality.
- Restrict crypto mining operations that “adversely affect the state greenhouse gas emission.”
Democrat Kevin Parker argued the continuous expansion and operation of crypto mining will “increase the amount of energy usage in the State of New York.”
The bill also warned crypto’s greenhouse emissions — although not formally calculated — would “irreparably harm” New York’s compliance with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).
The Climate Act in 2019 laid down New York’s carbon targets, to be achieved by promoting energy efficiency and electrification.
- Reduce carbon emissions by 22 million ton.
- Achieve 70% renewable energy by 2030.
- Generate 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.
Bitcoin miners love upstate New York
Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang in February tweeted interest in building New York into a crypto hub. This took a toll among climate change activists.
Conservationist Pat McClellan replied, labelling crypto an environmental catastrophe.
“I’d really like to know how one would go about both making NYC a hub for cryptocurrency (whatever that even means) and meeting literally any of our climate goals,” wrote McClellan.
Indeed, Parker’s crypto mining bill threatens New York’s growing Bitcoin mining sector — especially upstate in places like Rochester and Massena.
There, large scale Bitcoin mining is more affordable. Upstate New York boasts cheap energy and colder climate; lower temperatures mean less spent on cooling hardware.
In a former aluminum smelter in Massena, Coinmint operates what it calls the world’s largest crypto data center.
North of Buffalo, a British-Columbian firm just reportedly applied to convert a 55-megawatt gas power plant (Greenidge) into a hub for Bitcoin miners.
“The Greenidge power plant is one of nearly 30 power plants in upstate New York with the potential to be converted to full-time operation for Bitcoin mining and other high-energy data tasks,” wrote environmentalists to regulators in May (via NewYorkUpstate).
Tech billionaires defend Bitcoin
Yet, Wall Street’s ARK recently penned research that suggests Bitcoin mining can be good for the planet.
ARK’s report — shared by billionaires Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk — said Bitcoin is an ideal complement to renewable power projects backed by solar or wind energy.
Rather than crypto polluting the planet, ARK analysts reckon the opposite is true.
“A world with Bitcoin is a world that, at equilibrium, generates more electricity from renewable carbon-free sources,” they claimed last month.