Assembly passes partial cryptocurrency mining moratorium

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Assembly leadership did not bring up the moratorium legislation for a vote before the end of last year’s session. (Megan Zerez/WSKG)

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The New York Assembly passed legislation implementing a partial moratorium on some cryptocurrency mining Tuesday, granting a win for environmental activists.

The legislation sponsored by Ithaca Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-125) would implement a two-year moratorium on new proof-of-work cryptocurrency operations at fossil fuel-burning power plants, while the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducts an environmental impact study of the practice. 

“All we are saying with this bill, it’s just a pause on refiring inefficient fossil fuel-based power plants,” Kelles said on the Assembly floor Tuesday. “One tiny fraction of a very large industry. A tiny fraction. Let everything else prosper.”

Environmental policy groups have been pushing for the legislation out of concern that using fossil fuels to generate electricity that powers mining equipment will run counter to the state’s statutory climate targets.

The legislation still needs a vote in the State Senate, which passed a previous and broader version of it last year. It also needs approval by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has yet to publicly stake a position on the bill.