Legislature passes first statewide moratorium on cryptomining so DEC can study its impact

Photo courtesy of Seneca Lake Guardian

In the final hours of session, the Legislature passed the nation’s first statewide moratorium on cryptomining.

Grassroots environmental advocates — with a coalition of elected officials, small business owners, and winemakers — successfully beat back millions of dollars in lobbying from the crypto industry.

Advocates and Assembly member Anna Kelles, the lead sponsor of the bill, are celebrating the bill’s passage today and urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the bill into law.

The legislation (A.7389-C / S.6486-D) would establish a two-year moratorium on new and renewed permits for proof-of-work cryptomining operations housed at fossil fuel-burning power plants.

The bill would also require the Department of Environmental Conservation to perform a full environmental impact assessment within 12 months on cryptomining operations and how they affect New York’s ability to meet the climate goals mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander sent a letter to the governor and legislative conference leaders supporting the bill.

Lander said the bill would prevent the cryptocurrency mining industry from repowering and extending the life of fossil fuel power plants for two-years while DEC can conduct a review on the energy use and demand that comes with proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining.

“The study that would be initiated by signing this bill into law will help us to learn whether or not increased crypto mining would lead to the increased use of peaker plants in New York City, which are disproportionally located within several environmental justice communities,” Lander said.

Critics of cryptocurrency mining say the process consumes “massive” amounts of electricity, and if operations expand in New York as proposed, the energy demand would be equivalent to powering 750,000 homes — double the size of Buffalo.

New York is home to approximately 20 percent of the nation’s proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations, and this is expected to increase. This has created a situation where proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining entities are extending the life of fossil fueled power plants or even going as far as resurrecting previously retired plants.

“An increase in energy demand, at a time when fossil fueled power plants need to start operating less, will undoubtedly lead to a strain on New York’s generation resources,” Lander said.