Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrency mining has become an energy and environmental problem for governments around the world. This past Monday (03), a new bill was presented to the New York State Senate with the aim of banning activity in the region for three years, during which the authorities must assess all the climatic and economic impacts of these operations.
Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than Argentina
For the blockchain networks that support digital currencies to work, countless machines around the world must give up their processing power to encrypt and record all transactions. This is cryptocurrency mining, which in turn requires a lot of electricity to keep these computers running 24 hours a day.
According to the Center for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge, bitcoin mining alone consumes about 142 TWh (terawatt-hours), a value that exceeds the energy expenditure of entire countries, such as Ukraine and Argentina. However, the main polluting factor in this activity is that more than 60% of it is carried out in China, where most of the power plants operate on the basis of coal burning.
The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, from the Digiconomist platform, points out that cryptocurrency mining releases about 53 megatons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to all Sweden’s emissions. Now, upstate New York has become a focus for bitcoin miners and the government expects a continued increase in activity in the short term.
Project would ban mining in New York for 3 years
So Senator Kevin Parker created a bill to ban mining of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies across New York State for at least three years. If the current text is approved, the activity would become illegal in the region during the specified period, during which the authorities would conduct research to assess the release of polluting gases, impacts on electricity consumption and effects on the local fauna and flora related to mining.
With the survey completed, the result would be made publicly available so that the population (and the miners themselves) can comment on the bill for four months. After analyzing the responses, lawmakers would enter a period of evaluation of proposed regulations to curb pollution related to cryptocurrency mining.
Two cities become poles of mining and pollution
Two cities in the state of New York drew attention. Dresden and Alcoa became hubs for mining and air pollution. In recent years, some bitcoin mining organizations have adapted old and polluting power plants to provide electricity for thousands of machines that remain on 24 hours a day. Some facilities still contribute to the local network, but most work exclusively to supply the mining warehouses.
Roger Downs, director of conservation at the environmental NGO Sierra Club, told the Gizmodo that the recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act ironically served as one of the factors that drove cryptocurrency mining in New York State.
“With the new climate law, we are clearly moving away from fossil fuel power generation and trying to build renewable options,” he said, noting that the last coal plant in New York was officially closed last year. However, the initiative also released several facilities for miners to later occupy them.
For him, this recent mining boom in the region is the result of people taking advantage of previously deactivated plants. “They take advantage of this by causing intense carbon emissions, but this is permitted by loopholes in our regulations,” concluded Downs.
With information: Gizmodo