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A bill introduced in the New York State Senate is seeking to halt bitcoin mining for three years until the state has assessed its impact on the environment.
The bill will specifically look into the greenhouse gas emissions caused by bitcoin mining, including its effects on water, air, and wildlife. The assessment will produce a report, which will then be issued to the public and will be subject to a 120-day public comment period.
"Cryptocurrency mining centers are an expanding industry in the State of New York, often, but not exclusively, located in retired or converted fossil fuel power stations, including dormant peaker plants," the bill said.
If the bill passes, it will affect a growing industry, especially in upstate New York where the power for bitcoin mining is more affordable and aided by cooler weather that keeps equipment from overheating as much.
Among the mining centers active in upstate New York is Greenidge Generation Holdings, a natural gas power plant in the Finger Lakes region, which can mine an average of 5.5 bitcoins every day, according to CoinDesk. The facility was previously a coal-fired power plant but was converted to natural gas in 2017 and then to a bitcoin mining center in January 2020, according to its website.
Bitcoin mining has long been criticized due to its heavy energy use and environmental impact. Various research, including a study from Cambridge University, has shown that bitcoin mining around the world uses more energy each year than some entire nations.
However, many of bitcoin's supporters maintain that mining increasingly uses renewable energy.
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