New York has become the first state to ban some forms of cryptocurrency mining to address environmental concerns over the energy-intensive process.

“I am committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure that New York remains a center for financial innovation, while also prioritizing the protection of our environment,” New York Gov. Cathy Hochul said in a message after signing the law on Nov. 22.

The new law temporarily halts the issuance and renovation of air permits to companies that have converted some of the state’s oldest fossil fuel plants into cryptocurrency mining hubs.

But the ban does not affect individual cryptocurrency miners.

The law is specifically aimed at power-hungry cryptocurrency mining companies in the state that use “proof-of-work” authentication — a process that sometimes involves millions of high-powered computers to monitor and secure bitcoin and other virtual transactions. Currencies.

Mining crypto can produce harmful emissions by using coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels to generate electricity.

China in 2010 After taking control of bitcoin mining in 2021, upstate New York became a popular hub for digital currency mining thanks to the availability of cheap power from Niagara Falls and closed power plants.

However, as companies flocked to the region, climate activists began sounding the alarm about the potential environmental damage caused by crypto mining.

“Crypto is not just local, communities in upstate New York can suffer when once-abandoned coal plants come back from the dead.” Zombie plants “My crypto all day, every day,” Richard Schrader. New York lawmaker and policy director for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement.

The new law requires New York’s Department of Environmental Protection to study the impact of the crypto mining industry on the environment within two years.

Nationally, US crypto mining has produced 25 to 50 million metric tons of carbon pollution, according to a White House report. That’s the equivalent of driving 20 to 40 million gasoline-powered cars for a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The crypto industry has tried to address concerns about energy consumption and carbon emissions.

In September, Ethereum, the largest blockchain behind bitcoin, switched to a more energy-efficient method of verifying crypto transactions on its platform, known as proof-of-stake (PoS).

This update is expected to reduce Ethereum’s carbon footprint by more than 99 percent, according to its website.

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