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Uncertainty Surrounds Bitcoin Mining in New York while Other States Begin Deep Dive on Benefits of Digital Currency Implementation

  • New York’s bill to put a temporary ban on Bitcoin mining is in the hands of Governor Hochul – who plans to carefully review it before making a decision (it could be six months or more)
  • The Biden Administration called on federal entities to begin researching the benefits of cryptocurrency implementation
  • Pennsylvania and California have begun efforts to analyze the pros and cons of digital currency in their respective states

The fate of Bitcoin mining currently resides in the hands of Governor Kathy Hochul. New York Senate passed a first-of-its-kind moratorium initially drafted by Ithaca Assembly member Anna Kelles in early June. If signed, it could temporarily halt crypto mining in the state due to the energy-intensive process of proof-of-work crypto mining and stop companies from setting up mining operations in retired fossil fuel plants. 

Governor Hochul has not indicated her stance on whether she will sign the bill or she will veto it. “We’ll be looking at all the bills very closely. So we have a lot of work to do over the next, actually, six months,” Hochul said (https://ccw.fm/1DCIt). The Governor’s progressive primary challenger, Jumaane Williams, has expressed his support for the bill and his criticism of Hochul’s administration campaign for taking contributions from the same crypto interests lobbying against the new legislation.

Experts in cryptocurrency mining have expressed concerns regarding the legislation. If the Governor signs, it could begin a chain reaction across the country, with other states passing similar legislation. While New York is classified as a hotbed for cryptocurrency mining, other states could begin feeling the pressure to comply with the environmental efforts. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin retweeted a tweet from U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Fenton, saying, “No government has the right to tell you what software to run. Code is speech.” Fenton is the former executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation and is running for a New Hampshire Senate seat.

Buterin added, “Ultimately, I agree with this (that is, I oppose banning PoW). The government picking and choosing which specific applications are an okay use of electricity or not is a bad idea. Better to just implement carbon pricing and use some of the revenues to compensate low-income users” (https://ccw.fm/9sjOT).

Efforts are being made industry-wide by digital mining companies to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, companies like Stronghold Digital Mining Inc. (NASDAQ: SDIG) are turning to alternative energy sources to become more environmentally friendly. Stronghold uses coal refuse reclamation sites across Pennsylvania to fuel operations. Pennsylvania is one state that has created a task force to study how federal policy changes concerning digital currency could benefit the state.

In March, President Biden issued an executive order calling for studies on the risks and benefits of using cryptocurrency. California was the first to step up to the call – formally analyzing how to adapt these crypto technologies. Following suit, Pennsylvania’s President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) announced similar plans. 

“Digital assets like Bitcoin are here to stay, and it is only a matter of time before Congress takes action to regulate their use nationwide. While we await further guidance from the federal government, it makes sense for Pennsylvania to do our due diligence so we are ready to take advantage of the economic opportunities that will open up,” said Corman in an open statement on the matter (https://ccw.fm/XFwkD). He also noted that Pennsylvania is uniquely positioned to be a leader in Bitcoin mining efforts due to the state’s abundance of natural resources.

Corman backed up his position, stating that mining Bitcoin requires a great deal of energy and computational power. “As a global leader in energy, Pennsylvania could be an ideal location for Bitcoin mining operations in the future. We should always look for economic development opportunities to make our state more prosperous, and Bitcoin mining presents an interesting possibility for our Commonwealth,” he added.

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