Mayor Eric Adams is urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to veto controversial legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining at old fossil fuel powered plants to help the state better meet its climate goals.
“I’m going to ask the governor to consider vetoing the bill that is going to get in the way of cryptocurrency upstate,” Adams told Crain’s New York Business in an interview published Monday.
“When you look at the billions of dollars that are spent on cryptocurrency – New York is the leader. We can’t continue to put barriers in place.”
Cryptocurrency transactions are recorded in a digital ledger called a blockchain, which requires enormous amounts of energy to produce. By lending computing power to that process, cryptocurrency “miners” are rewarded with newly-minted pieces of digital coins like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
His opposition to the legislation is not sitting well with Assemblywoman Anne Kelles (D-Ithaca), who sponsored the bill with state Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn).
“It took me by surprise and it’s deeply disappointing because he suggests this bill would negatively impact cryptocurrency in upstate NY [but] what he is doing is asking us to go back to the stone age of cryptocurrency,” she told The Post Monday.
She added that the bill only affects new cryptocurrency mining operations that use the so-called “proof of work” to mint virtual currency while validating transactions rather than a less-energy intensive technique known as “proof of stake” that is increasingly in vogue with techies.
A moratorium as envisioned by the legislation would help spur the use of green energy rather than fossil fuels, she added.
“This bill could be seen as something that could promote innovation … what he is doing is asking us to go back to the stone age of cryptocurrency,” added Kelles, who said she has not been contacted by Adams regarding the legislation.
Advocates of the legislation have said limiting the use of fossil fuels to mint cryptocurrencies is necessary in order to help the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 – compared to 1990 levels – per the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed by the Legislature in 2019.
Parker did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
The mayor has been an unabashed cheerleader for the adoption of cryptocurrency as mayor – even taking his first paycheck in Bitcoin despite its decreasing value.
His latest comments appear to be at odds with his past position on supporting cryptocurrency rather than greenhouse gas emitting crypto-mining operations.
“Mayor Adams – who has a 29% approval rating according to the latest Siena poll – is clearly responding to his crypto donors over the needs of everyday New Yorkers, flip flopping on his testimony to the Legislature in February when he claimed: “I support cryptocurrency, not crypto mining,” Yvonne Taylor, vice president of the environmental advocacy group Seneca Lake Guardian, said in a press release, referring to Hizzonner’s slumping numbers.
A spokesman for Adams fired back by noting how the mayor wanted to keep a rising industry flourishing without unnecessary regulation.
“Mayor Adams believes that New York City must be at the forefront of the innovation economy, which includes cryptocurrency and web3, as we continue to chart our economic recovery. He is concerned that the state’s ban on crypto mining, which is the first in the nation, is unnecessarily stringent and risks sacrificing our competitive edge at a time when we can least afford it. The administration is committed to working with the Governor and state legislators to craft responsible regulations that address the environmental issues associated with crypto mining, while continuing to encourage the growth of this burgeoning industry right here in New York,” spokesman Jonan Allon said in a statement.
Other opponents of the proposed moratorium have argued that it would inhibit job growth in economically-distressed upstate, especially for businesses run by people of color.
Hochul has received campaign donations from cryptocurrency interests as she runs for a full term in office alongside her running mate Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado despite criticism from environmentalists.
She has yet to publicly say whether she will sign the legislation into law.
Governors traditionally wait until the end of the year to decide the fate of hundreds of bills that legislators pass each year.
“We have a lot of work to do over the next actually six months,” Hochul told reporters last week when asked about whether she would sign or veto the bill sooner rather than later.