New York Governor Hochul Signs Moratorium to Curb Crypto Mining
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(Bloomberg) – New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law one of the most restrictive laws in the United States regulating cryptocurrency mining, becoming the first state to impose such a ban.
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The law triggers a two-year moratorium on new permits for fossil-fuelled crypto mining companies that use proof-of-work authentication methods involving millions of computers to validate transaction data. This brings the companies rewards in the form of the token from the blockchain network.
The Bitcoin network relies on Proof-of-Work authentication. Billions of dollars have been invested in bitcoin mining operations, and the energy consumption for such operations can be equivalent to that of an entire nation.
New York has become one of the largest crypto mining hubs after China banned crypto mining last May. Miners have flocked to the state because its low energy costs and cool climate mean higher productivity for mining operations. However, activists have increasingly highlighted the environmental costs of such activities.
"I will ensure New York remains the center of financial innovation while taking important steps to prioritize environmental protection," Hochul said in a memo released late Tuesday. "It is the first of its kind in the country and an important step for New York in addressing the global climate crisis."
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The two-year moratorium comes as the crypto industry faces closer scrutiny from regulators following the bankruptcy of crypto exchange FTX. FTX's sudden fall has sent shockwaves and contagion fears through the crypto market, with Bitcoin temporarily falling below $16,000.
The bill was approved by the state Senate in June, but Hochul didn't sign it until after the gubernatorial election was completed. Faced with heavy lobbying against the cryptocurrency industry's proposal. Hochul had said during a gubernatorial debate in October that she was "looking closely at this bill" but did not directly say she would sign it.
Read more: New York Governor Hochul pushed to sign off on a two-year crypto mining ban
Environmental groups praised Hochul's decision to sign the law.
"For too long, the state's dramatically energy-intensive mining assets, whose massive carbon footprint is exacerbating climate change, have gone unregulated," said Richard Schrader, New York Legislative and Policy Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Crypto not only takes its toll on the environment, but communities in upstate New York could suffer as once-abandoned coal-fired power plants rise from the dead as 'zombie plants' mining crypto all day, every day.”
(Updates with comment from NRDC in last paragraph.)
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