New York State Senate passes Bitcoin mining moratorium

The New York State Senate approved a controversial proof-of-work (PoW) mining ban bill that would prohibit any new Bitcoin (BTC) mining operations in the state.

The PoW mining ban bill was first passed by the state assembly in April last month. It aims to prohibit any new mining operations in the state for the next two years. Now, the bill is headed for the governor’s office, which once approved, would make New York the first state in the United States to place a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining.

Status of the bill as of June 3. Source: New York State Senate

PoW mining consensus is predominantly used by Bitcoin miners and is considered one of the safest and most decentralized ways of mining. However, the practice is controversial as it requires an incredibly high amount of energy.

The vote on the bill saw many senators flip from undecided to in favor, claiming they are concerned about carbon emissions.

The bill would not only prohibit new mining operations but also refuse the renewal of licenses to those who are already operating in the state. Any new PoW mining operation in the state could only operate if it uses 100% renewable energy.

Bitcoin’s mining consensus mechanism has been one of the hottest topics of debate among policymakers aided by environmentalist and billionaire lobbies supporting proof-of-stake mining consensus, which is far less energy intensive. Greenpeace, as well as Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen have been campaigning for a change of the Bitcoin code.

Policymakers often only focus on the high energy consumption by Bitcoin miners, ignoring the fact that a significant chunk of this energy comes from renewable sources, especially in New York where 50% of the energy is produced from renewable sources.

Related: NY State Supreme Court dismisses petition against crypto mining company

Criticism of PoW mining gained steam last year at the peak of the bull run. However, by the end of the last year, a MicroStrategy-led Bitcoin mining council report highlighted that more than 60% of the electricity consumption by the BTC network comes from clean sources.

Sustainable energy usage by Bitcoin vs other industries. Source: BMC

The European Parliament proposed a similar PoW mining ban, however, it amended the proposal to remove the ban amid growing public scrutiny.

Experts believe New York’s decision to ban PoW mining would create a domino effect and other states might follow. The U.S is currently the world leader in Bitcoin mining hash rate, accounting for 38% of the network’s mining power.

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