With the election in the rear-view mirror, environmental activists are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to impose a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining.
A bill to do so is now on the governor’s desk and awaiting her signature.
Protestors gathered outside Hochul’s Manhattan office Tuesday, calling on her to sign a bill imposing a two-year ban on the energy-intensive mining in upstate New York.
“So, governor I am asking you, I am joining people,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. “This is a very important bill to me. And my eldest, and my newborn daughter. I need to make sure that we are doing everything we can so they can have a better climate than we are facing right now.”
The bill passed both houses of the legislature earlier this year. Cryptocurrency miners have been repurposing old, defunct power plants and factories upstate and using them to generate massive amounts of electricity to mine for bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
Upstate communities remain divided on the issue. While many welcome the jobs that have been created in areas that desperately need them, others worry about the detrimental effect burning fossil fuels has on the environment.
“If people want to have an argument about the economic impact of cryptomining, the numbers are very clear,” said activist Ana Maria Archila, who ran for lieutenant governor earlier this year. “But the fact is that, in addition to that, there is a profound urgency to take action on climate.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been a strong believer in the role of cryptocurrency in creating a new industry and generate jobs. He even took his first few pay checks as mayor in Bitcoin.
In a statement, a spokesperson for City Hall said the mayor “supports regulation on the industry, while also believing that we should not disincentivize those looking to set up shop here in our city or state.”
Hochul was asked whether she plans to sign the bill this past weekend at the annual SOMOS conference in Puerto Rico.
“There are a lot of bills on my desk. We got through-600 plus,” Hochul said.
“Right, but I’m asking about this one,” a reporter interrupted.
“I know you are, but we have about 400,” Hochul continued. “So, if people are wondering where I am? Find me behind my desk, surrounded by my team, reading hundreds and hundreds of pages of bills. So, we have a couple of weeks. I’ll make this prediction: it will be settled by midnight on Dec. 31.”
Also at the SOMOS conference, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Brock Pierce was shouted down by protesters.
“Get out of Puerto Rico! Get out of Puerto Rico!”
They yelled while following him through the halls of the El San Juan Hotel.
Pierce has been accused of displacing Puerto Ricans by buying up land on the island and making it unaffordable for those who currently live there.
Cryptocurrency has faced some headwinds lately, with volatility in the market and the bankruptcy last week of a hedge fund that traded in cryptocurrency.