The ongoing debate over Bitcoin mining's high environmental footprint has catalyzed legislators in New York to consider banning proof-of-work (PoW) mining for two years.
In an upcoming bill, New York legislators will impose a two-year moratorium on proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining. Proof-of-work refers to a blockchain network's consensus algorithm, which validates a cryptocurrency transaction by allowing people to compete to add new blocks. The algorithm typically increases each computer's electricity usage according to the complexity of these computer puzzles, as virtual miners compete to be the first to complete these challenges.
Bitcoin is the most famous example of a blockchain network running on the proof-of-work consensus algorithm.
New York state is also asking for an environmental impact statement on proof-of-work crypto mining, which will address: (1) how many crypto mining operations exist in the state that rely on proof-of-work, (2) the location of these projects, (3) the exact amount of energy consumed by each individual crypto mining project, (4) the type of energy fueling each mining project, and (5) the ecological impacts of mining, particularly as it impacts water quality and usage.
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The environmental impact statement will also assess the overall benefits and costs of crypto mining in the state, along with the public health impacts of crypto mining.
Pro-crypto groups have lobbied politicians not to pursue the bill, which they believe will stifle innovation in an emerging technology. The bill will likely go for a vote in the Assembly soon, after which it will require Senate approval and need the greenlight of the governor, who can ultimately approve or veto the bill.