The Senate approves New York’s anti-bitcoin mining legislation

June 10, 2021

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Legislators in New York are bracing themselves for a battle over Bitcoin mining.


Senate Bill S6486B, which limits the issuing of permits to Bitcoin mining companies on environmental grounds, was passed by a 36-27 vote in the upper chamber. Senator Kevin Parker, a Democrat, is the bill’s sponsor, and it is now on its way to the Democratic-controlled Assembly.


The bill would have imposed a three-year embargo on all Bitcoin mining if it had been passed as drafted, allowing the state to conduct an environmental impact assessment. That would have effectively compelled mining operations in the state to close their doors and leave town.


The modified bill amends the state’s Environmental Conservation Law to restrict new operations from being granted permission to operate in an “electric generating plant that uses a carbon-based fuel.” It also effectively caps existing mining operations’ power usage at present levels and requires the development of a “generic environmental impact assessment” on proof-of-work mining. 


The regulation would apply to any blockchain system that uses proof-of-work consensus processes, not only Bitcoin. The energy-intensive process of dedicating processing power to validate transactions on a blockchain and create new coins is known as proof of work.


Bitcoin has been chastised for consuming about the same amount of electricity as a small country. While Bitcoin proponents say that the investment is worthwhile and/or that it can be made using clean energy that does not emit carbon into the atmosphere, many critics claim that BTC is driving demand for more energy that renewable energy can only partially meet.


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