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Advocates - Including SEIU, ‘Demonstrate Broad Support For Final Passage To Address Fossil Fuel Burning Power Plants Used For Crypto Mining’

Published Tuesday, May 10, 2022
by Labor News Services
Advocates - Including SEIU, ‘Demonstrate Broad Support For Final Passage To Address Fossil Fuel Burning Power Plants Used For Crypto Mining’

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - Legislation (A7389C/S6486D) to place a two-year moratorium on the issuance of new air permits or air permit renewals for Fossil Fuel Plants that power Proof-of-Work (POW) Crypto-currency Mining in New York State has passed through the Assembly.

Beforehand, State Senator Keven Parker and State Assembly Member Anna Kelles gathered alongside Legislative Co-Sponsors and advocates - including 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU), EarthJustice, the Sierra Club, Environmental Advocates NY and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), to demonstrate broad support for the legislation and to urge for its final passage.

Despite the crypto-currency industry spending millions lobbying against the Bill and circulating misinformation, the legislation passed the Assembly with broad support.

Legislators and advocates emphasized the importance of passing A7389C/S6486D this session to ensure the State pauses the dirty practice or the refiring of retired Fossil Fuel Power Plants for crypto-mining and has the opportunity to assess if this authentication method aligns with New York’s landmark Climate Law - the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Recently, more than 500 organizations and businesses across New York also sent a letter to Legislative Leadership urging passage of the legislation.

Todd Hobler, Executive Vice-President of the Upstate Division for 1199 SEIU, said: “Many 1199 SEIU Members live in the shadows of power plants and, as Health Care Workers, care deeply about the air we breathe and climate change.  The U.S. has a history of sacrificing regions and communities for the sake of energy production and profit.  The coal fields of Appalachia and the gas fracking areas of Pennsylvania are places where energy production left a legacy of pollution and poverty while enriching the few.  New York State should support and encourage industries that create good jobs and contribute to the community.”

Assembly Member Kelles said: “There are many ways to validate crypto-currency transactions, none of which use anywhere near as much of our precious energy resources as Proof-Of-Work Crypto-Mining.  We simply cannot let proof of work mining lead to an enormous energy consumption spike at a moment when Climate Scientists are collectively stating that we must reduce our total Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 50% in the next eight years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.  This will require that we retire power plants that use fossil fuels as an energy source.  We cannot afford to enable retired power plants to be brought back on line for private gain.”

Senator Parker, who serves as Chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said: “As the Chairman of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee, reaching our clean energy goals is always a priority for me.  We cannot allow these power plants with the primary purpose of validating crypto-currency to carelessly add to our carbon footprint and set us back from our energy goals.  We must be proactive, as the window to combat climate change is closing and these POW mining operations have considerable negative impacts on our environment and energy consumption.  Simply put, this legislation is specific to Fossil Fuel Burning Power Plants used for crypto-mining and will in no way affect the buying, selling and trading of any crypto-currencies, including those authenticated through POW.  It's imperative we study the viability of these POW mining operations with the use of renewable energy and have an opportunity to assess whether it aligns with our landmark Climate Law.”

Advocates have been pushing Governor Hochul for months to impose a moratorium on crypto-mining in New York State, currently home to 20% of the Nation’s crypto-mining.

Reform Groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have specifically criticized the Crypto-Mining Industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain, and a group of Federal Lawmakers - led by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, recently requested details from six major Bitcoin Mining Companies about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.

Even the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, an avid crypto-booster, has come out against mining, declaring on February 9th to a joint session of the Legislature: “I support crypto-currency, not crypto-mining.”

POW crypto-currency is an extremely energy-intensive process that requires thousands of machines whirring 24/7 to solve complex equations.

The more machines that are running, the faster a coin is mined.

Each one of these machines requires energy to run, plus more energy to run cooling technology.

Globally, POW Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of energy each day as the entire country of Argentina.

It produces 30,700 metric tons of e-waste each year, comparable to the yearly IT equipment waste of the Netherlands.

There are up to 49 decommissioned or under-utilized power plants across New York State, phasing out as New York reduces its Greenhouse Gas emissions that could again guzzle fossil fuels - this time for their own private interests without any public benefit.

If left unregulated, the industry will wreak irrevocable harm on the entire State, making it impossible to reach New York's crucial climate goals as outlined in the CLCPA, Advocates argue.

The CLCPA commits to an 85% reduction in Greenhouse Gasses by 2050 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

Crypto-mining is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the State Constitution passed last year, which guarantees every New Yorker has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.

Revitalizing old polluting power plants for private financial gain, with drastic consequences for our air, water and climate, all while causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional - and ought to be treated as such, the Advocates said.



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