Bitcoin Mining Controversy in New York

October 19, 2021

Controversy in New York as the state’s governor, Kathy Hochul, has been urged by a group of local organizations and companies to deny Bitcoin miners a business permit.

In a letter, the ‘coalition’ of stakeholders, specifically asks for the “denial of permits for the Greenidge Generating Station and the Fortistar North Tonawanda Facility” and also requests the New York government to review “proof-of-work” (PoW) digital currency mining in the state as the local businesses believe PoW mining “drastically undermines New York’s climate goals.”

The letter, published October 13 on states:

“We, the undersigned organizations, businesses, and labor groups, write today to urge your administration to issue a statewide moratorium on proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency mining until a thorough statewide Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) is conducted, and to deny the permits for the Greenidge Generating Station and the Fortistar North Tonawanda Facility.”

The ‘coalition’ includes businesses and organizations such as Seatuck Environmental Association, Ravines Wine Cellars, Peconic Baykeeper, Nassau Hiking & Outdoor Club, NYPAN Environmental Committee, Mothers Out Front New York, and New Yorkers for Clean Power.

The letter further says:

“These ‘mining’ activities, particularly proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining use enormous amounts of energy to power the computers needed to conduct business – should this activity expand in New York, it could drastically undermine New York’s climate goals established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.”

In the appeal to governor Kathy Hochul, the claim is made that bitcoin mining facilities are threatening the state’s progress towards reducing its carbon footprint.

“In New York, data mining operations using warehouses full of computers have set up shop in upstate areas siphoning electricity from New York’s grid, ‘re-powering’ defunct fossil-fueled power plants, thus seriously jeopardizing the state’s progress on and meeting mandates for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Furthermore, the ‘coalition’ stresses the governor to act immediately.

“As you have witnessed in your early weeks on the job, the climate crisis in New York is here now. New York City recently saw unprecedented flooding that led to the loss of lives – strong climate action is needed now more than ever. We urge you to lead the way and set a national precedent on the issue of proof-of-work cryptocurrency by issuing a statewide moratorium and denying the permits for Greenidge and Fortistar. Thank you for your time and consideration of our comments.”

It is not the first time that Bitcoin mining receives headwind. Environmental groups have been taking aim at the industry for years now. Just in May 2021, senator Parker introduced legislation imposing a moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining until the NY government could complete an assessment of the environmental impact. According to the senator, Bitcoin mining “threatens not only New York’s climate goals, under the CLCPA, but also global energy policy, such as the Paris Agreement.”

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Author: Peter Siu

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