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Cryptocurrency miners may no longer be able to use fossil fuel-generated power in New York

Bitcoin symbol above a shop as people walk by.
Bitcoin symbol above a shop as people walk by.   -   Copyright  ARMEND NIMANI/AFP or licensors
By Maeve Campbell  with Reuters

The New York State Legislature has passed a bill that would impose a two-year ban on the use of fossil-fuel power plants to provide energy to miners of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

However, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul has not yet decided whether to sign it.

Cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of electricity to power computer systems that compete to solve mathematical puzzles to validate blockchain transactions. The miner who solves the puzzle first is rewarded with cryptocurrency.

The State Assembly passed the bill in April and the Senate passed it late last week. The governor's office said on Monday that she was still weighing up whether to sign the bill.

"There is a balancing act involved here, very much a balancing act," the governor said in a statement. 

"We have to balance protection of the environment, but also protect the opportunity for jobs that go to areas that don't see a lot of activity, and making sure that the energy that's consumed by these entities, is managed properly."

We have to balance protection of the environment, but also protect the opportunity for jobs that go to areas that don't see a lot of activity.
Kathy Hochul
New York Governor
Canva
New York City, US.Canva

The bill is part of the state's effort to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85 per cent by 2050.

Cryptocurrency mining operations "are an expanding industry in the State of New York" that "will greatly increase the amount of energy usage" in the state, according to the bill.

To prevent cryptocurrency mining from increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the bill would impose a moratorium on air permit issuance and renewal for an electric generating facility that utilises a carbon-based fuel and provides energy used by cryptocurrency mining operations.