The New York bill that would hit pause on crypto mining has new opposition: New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has previously raised issues with mining even as he's embraced cryptocurrencies.
The bill in question passed the state legislature earlier this month, but now New York City Mayor Eric Adams intends to ask Gov. Kathy Hochul to veto it, according to reporting by Crain’s New York. He said he wants to protect New York’s role as a leader in crypto, which he characterized as a fledgling industry threatened by lawmakers biased against it.
Crypto mining uses computational processes that keep the blockchain secure, but it's also incredibly energy-intensive and responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions. The bill in question would put a moratorium on new proof-of-work mining, not ban it outright. Otherwise, it would do nothing else to regulate the industry. Despite that, Adams said the state should focus its energy on industry “innovation” and “deadlines.”
“Tell crypto mining [firms] within the next five years, ‘We need to reduce energy costs,’” Adams told Crain’s. “Give us a goal, not bans.”
Again, the bill does not ban crypto mining. It puts a two-year moratorium on renewing or expanding permits for mines that draw electricity from fossil fuel power plants as well as issuing permits for any new mines meeting that description. Advocates of the bill told Crain’s that there are currently 30 crypto mining plants in use in the state, and 29 are available for future permitting.
The fight over the bill comes as upstate New York is swiftly becoming a major hub for mining, including a controversial site on the shores of Seneca Lake that helped kick-start the showdown. In that instance, a crypto operation revived a long-closed coal plant and retrofitted it to run on natural gas. While it sends a small amount of power to the grid, it’s primarily a vehicle for mining bitcoin. Firing up more plants-turned-bitcoin-mines like it could jeopardize New York's ability to meet its climate goals.
Adams took his first three paychecks in bitcoin, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the industry since taking office earlier this year. However, he told a joint session of state legislators back in February that he supports “cryptocurrency, not crypto mining” in light of climate-related concerns. It’s a distinction he seems to have left behind, though, with a bill on the governor's desk.
"It's frankly shameful to see the mayor of the largest city in the country so nakedly in thrall to crypto cash in the middle of a climate crisis," Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, said in a statement.
Hochul technically has 10 working days after the bill’s June 3 passage to sign or veto it, but governors often bump such decisions until the end of the year. In recent comments to reporters, she suggested that the bill’s fate will be decided in a matter of months, not days.