NEW YORK--  Assemblywoman, Anna Kelles of the 125th district, is presenting a new bill in the New York State legislature, seeking to put a three-year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining. 

“This bill is pretty straightforward, it would put a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining facilities and would require a full general environmental impact assessment,” said Kelles. 

The EIA is used to examine the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project, in this case, that project would be cryptocurrency mining throughout New York State. 

“That information would be valuable for us to evaluate, one, what is the impact of mining facilities in the state on greenhouse gas emissions, two, what is the impact on water quality and three what is the impact on air quality,” said Kelles. 

Cryptocurrency mining is known to be very taxing on the environment and according to an article published by Vice, Bitcoin mining alone could push global warming above 2 degrees celsius in a couple of decades. The article also states that rising global temperatures could be noticed as soon as 2033. 

Anna Kelles and environmental groups in the Finger Lakes region worry that this does not align with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act

“We need to make sure that we can meet those goals and anything that could potentially threaten that certainly would need to be evaluated,” said Kelles. 

The CLCPA’s goals are 100% zero-emissions electricity by 2040; 70% renewable energy by 2030 and a reduction of Greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050. 

Kelles said she is not against cryptocurrency mining as a whole but she does not believe it should continue without statewide regulations. Yvonne Taylor, President of the Seneca Lake Guardian agrees. 

“This should not be a town by town fight, small towns are not equipped to readily understand a somewhat complicated and relatively new industry,” said Taylor. 

 When it comes to mining cryptocurrency there are two different methods that can be used, Proof of Work and Proof of Stack and Kelles hopes that if her bill goes through, it will require mining operations to use Proof of Stake. 

“They have a tremendous difference in the energy usage required to validate a transaction under a proof of work model vs. a proof of stake model,” said Kelles. 

Proof of work in cryptocurrency mining requires a machine to solve an arbitrary mathematical puzzle, an example of a company using PoW would be Greenidge Generation. The most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, runs off of a PoW model. 

Proof of Stake on the other hand was made to address the high energy usage of PoW, which encourages miners to sell their coins. PoS on the other hand encourages miners to hold onto coins; instead of utilizing energy to answer PoW puzzles, a PoS miner is limited to mining the percent of coins in their possession. So, for example, if I only own one apple, I can only pick one apple, if I own two apples, I can pick two apples, which limits my apple picking capabilities and the amount of energy I use picking the apple or the Bitcoin. 

One of the major problems with PoS is that there are barely any cryptocurrencies that require this, which limits large operations like Greenidge Generation from profiting off of it. 

Currently, there are  13 public cryptocurrency mining operations with headquarters in the United States. Kelles said in New York state mining operations seem to be setting up shop at a rapid rate within power plants that have been shut down due to their inefficiencies.

“ If this moratorium happens then that trend would pause until we get the data and then the data would be used to potentially establish policy,” said Kelles. 

But Kelles is confident that cryptocurrency is here for the long run, she just hopes the environmental impact can be mitigated. 

“Blockchain technology is here to stay, I think virtual currencies are a growing area of focus in international economic arenas and certainly within the United States.”  

Kelles is not the only one concerned about mining cryptocurrency in New York State. On Monday Schuyler County requested state-wide regulations and on Tuesday, May 11th the Seneca County Board of Supervisors followed Schuyler County in asking that New York adopt statewide regulations.