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New York Bill Could Ban Crypto Mining to Study Environmental Effects

Bitcoin on the Statue of Liberty, covered by a "no" symbol.
(Image credit: Shutterstock, Edited by Tom's Hardware)

A bill proposed in New York state by state Sen. Kevin S. Parker could stop cryptocurrency mining to study and issue findings on how it affects the environment. The bill, NY State Senate Bill S6486, was first reported on by Earther.

Beyond making PC components notoriously difficult to find, running powerful computers day in and day out uses huge amounts of electricity.

The bill, which is still in committee so could change, calls for a "three-year moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers in the state, including, but not limited to cryptocurrency mining centers located in converted fossil fuel power plants." There has been an increase in mining activity in upstate New York. In the town of Dresden, one plant planned "to quadruple the power used to process Bitcoin transactions by late next year,” much to the concerns of environmentalists.

It isn't completely clear what makes a "cryptocurrency mining center," and if individuals mining on their own computers would also be banned. Tom's Hardware has reached out to Sen. Parker's office and will update this story if we get a response.

Following the environmental impact studies, mining operations that negatively impact greenhouse gas emission targets in the state's Climate Leadership and Community  Protection Act of 2019 would be ineligible to obtain a permit to continue running. That act requires that greenhouse gas emissions across the state be reduced 85% and that it achieves net zero emissions across industries.

The bill cites statistics estimating that cryptocurrency networks use as much energy as Sweden. Some cryptocurrency advocates suggest that it is becoming increasingly common for mining to take place using renewable energy. But while using cheap energy makes for increased profits, that energy still often comes from coal.

Bill S6486 is currently in committee. Its next steps would be to go to the floor calendar, pass both the state's senate and assembly and, if it gets through all that, be delivered to and signed or vetoed by the governor.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.

  • excalibur1814
    "New York Bill Could Ban Crypto Mining to Study... if they can make some cash from it!"
    Reply
  • spentshells
    excalibur1814 said:
    "New York Bill Could Ban Crypto Mining to Study... if they can make some cash from it!"

    they are simply looking to adjust the power rates
    Reply
  • ThatMouse
    I don't understand why New York is allowing a coal power plant to be running in the area just to power crypto mining. That's just insane. But other than that I'm not sure how you would enforce this if someone does it at home.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    ThatMouse said:
    But other than that I'm not sure how you would enforce this if someone does it at home.
    If enough people pick it up: increase in cost of utility bills. Some regions may even see forced grid downtime at select intervals - if it ever gets that bad.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Every TWh of renewable energy consumed by crypto is 1TWh less renewable energy that would otherwise have been applied towards reducing the amount of fossil fuel energy in the overall mix.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Now, if we can only spread the bill to ban Crypto Mining on a International Level.
    Reply
  • escksu
    InvalidError said:
    Every TWh of renewable energy consumed by crypto is 1TWh less renewable energy that would otherwise have been applied towards reducing the amount of fossil fuel energy in the overall mix.

    Haha, crypto mining is nothing.

    The real pollution is from the vehicles in USA. The fuel guzzling 3L-4L V8s. USA uses over 9.2 million barrels of gasoline a day (92% from light duty vehicles)..... By contrast entire Europe (including UK, exclude Russia) uses 2.5 million barrels a day.

    So, USA is really one big gasoline sucker and massive massive polluter...
    Reply
  • escksu
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Now, if we can only spread the bill to ban Crypto Mining on a International Level.

    I would say ban USA from using excessive gasoline. There is no reason why USA uses 3x more gasoline than Europe.
    Reply
  • purple_dragon
    The real problem is the fear of nuclear power plants. A modern nuclear power plant is the cleanest form of energy production by far. They produce 1 gigawatt of electricity per plant. If electric vehicles are the future we will require many nuclear plants or the grid will simply be unable to handle the demand.
    Reply
  • gg83
    we just need a breakthrough in energy storage, more than that of lithium-ion.
    Reply