A BILL AIM TO PUT A 2YEAR MORATORIUM ON CRYPTO MINING IN NY IN FACING A PUSHBACK
The New York State Assembly version of the bill, sponsored by Democrat Anna Kelles, was passed last week. But the Senate version still faces many challenges before it is signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The first step? It comes from the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.
But the bill has strong opponents in the 11-member committee - including committee chairman Democrat Todd Kaminsky - who may have suspended the bill.
Kaminsky, a dedicated environmentalist, has approved the New York Climate Change and Community Safety Act (CLCPA) - a landmark law of 2019 that mandated the state to receive 100% less electricity by 2040.
The goals set by the CLCPA have been cited by many proponents of the bill - who see mining mining that requires energy-intensive operations as a threat to the desired climate - as the driving force behind the proposed suspension.
However, Chemsky does not view things that way.
"I really believe in the new green economy and the fight against climate change," Chemsky told CoinDesk. "The question we have to ask is, 'How much will this law help us in achieving our climate goals against harmful emerging industries that I feel will be the biggest threat to our country's economy?'"
"I would like to do everything we can to make crypto mines eco-friendly, and there are great innovators who are doing just that," Chemsky added. "But I think this will be seen as very hostile ... I think it will lead to really dangerous economic consequences in New York if people see it as hating crypto."
The potential economic impact of the suspension has also been felt by other lawmakers, including Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, a Queens Democrat, and Senator Jeremy Cooney, a Rochester Democrat.
Vanel and Cooney spoke out against the bill at a rally in Albany on Monday by the Blockchain Association.
Along with representatives of the crypto industry and trade unions - including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), whose opposition sparked last year's version of the bill - lawmakers expressed concern that the suspension would result in job losses and economic opportunities for marginalized communities in Upstate New York. .
Rochester, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., could be at high risk for the impact of the suspension. Representatives of Foundry, a crypto mining company headquartered in Rochester, also expressed opposition to the bill on Monday. (Note: Foundry is part of Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk.)
Foundry said the suspension could "take New York into the game" of crypto mining and delay the company's expansion plans - including the addition of new high-paying technology services.
Vanel told CoinDesk the loss of these jobs was a major concern for him and other lawmakers.
"I personally had doubts that crypto mines could bring high quality jobs until I saw these places," Vanel told CoinDesk. "But then I saw people with no higher qualifications doing advanced qualification jobs."
"There's all this economic activity," Vanel said. "We have to make sure we work with the industry to create change if we do not want to move the industry from New York to other states."
Republican Senator Anthony Palumbo, a longtime member of the Conservation Committee, told CoinDesk that he wants the national legislature to find a way to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic opportunity.
"I don't think the suspension is the right answer," Palumbo said.
"I'm really a natural person, and I find that we need to reduce our carbon footprint and maybe switch to renewable resources, but it still needs to be done smarter and more honestly," he added.
Many in the crypto industry - and a growing number of lawmakers - have backtracked against the bill for being a "bad policy" that unfairly directs the crypto industry.
"If any industry is considered selected, it is a problem," Kamskyky told CoinDesk. "And you should have a very good reason for that."
"It's a whole strange place where we tell a crypto miner that they can't be crypto mines, but a rubber plant under the road can burn things without the same suspension," he said.
Instead, Chemsky told CoinDesk that he wants to create change and transform the entire economy in some climate-friendly ways without choosing a single industry.
"I want the industry to remove the fuel," Chemsky said. "The question is, can we do that with them instead of with them?"
Going forward, this bill must be considered and approved by the Senate Conservation Committee.