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In this edition, we dive into New York’s unprecedented crackdown on fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency mining, and what it means for the energy-hungry industry.
Last week, New York became the first state to temporarily ban new permits for cryptocurrency miners that wanted to retrofit fossil fuel plants to power their operations. It’s the culmination of activists’ and lawmakers’ efforts to stop miners from restarting the polluting power plants as the state looks to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.
Whether they’re mined using fossil fuels or not, cyptocurrencies like Bitcoin have a huge climate impact. The industry’s energy consumption rivals entire countries’, so even if it turns to renewables, mining uses electricity that could be more cleanly powering homes, electric cars and other essentials.
Still, other states are welcoming cryptocurrency miners, with questionable climate implications. Take North Dakota, where state officials are promising miners they could produce the “cleanest crypto on the planet” by taking advantage of the state’s growing wind energy resources. But that claim ignores North Dakota’s heavy reliance on coal power, and that its energy mix is dirtier than the national average.
Cryptocurrency’s electricity usage, environmental impact and more will likely be under scrutiny throughout New York’s two-year permitting moratorium, and the ban adds to the industry’s fears that more states will follow suit.
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