A milestone measure that would tap the brakes on the spread of cryptocurrency mining operations burning fossil fuels in New York has passed the state Legislature.
The bill approved early Friday by the state Senate would establish a two-year moratorium on new and renewed air permits for fossil fuel power plants used for energy-intensive “proof-of-work” cryptomining. Proof-of-work is the blockchain-based algorithm used by bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies.
The bill, touted by supporters as the first of its kind, now goes to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for consideration.
Supporters of the cryptocurrency industry said the measure targeting fossil-fuel burning power plants would crimp economic development in New York.
Environmentalists who lobbied for the bill said natural gas-burning power plants being used for cryptomining operations threaten the state’s ability to meet is long-term climate goals.
“With this bill’s passage, the legislature has rightly said fossil fuel power plants can’t get a second life in New York just for private industry gain, which would fly on the face of the state’s climate mandates,” said Liz Moran of Earthjustice in a prepared statement.
Environmentalists estimate that there are 30 plants in New York that could be converted into mining operations.
A coalition of groups has separately been urging the Hochul administration to deny the air permit renewal for Greenidge Generation in the Finger Lakes, which also produces power for the state’s electricity grid. A decision could come at the end of the month.
The measure also would require the state Department of Environmental Conservation to perform an environmental impact assessment on how cryptomining affect the state’s ability to meet its climate goals.
The bill passed the Assembly, the Legislature’s lower chamber, in April.