With roughly nine months until major federal and state elections, New York State gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams is making crypto mining an issue in his campaign, criticizing the lack of regulatory clarity.
Speaking to climate activists and protestors at Seneca Lake in upstate New York on Monday, Williams called on current Governor Kathy Hochul to deny permits for proof-of-work crypto mining firms seeking to operate in the state, citing potential environmental concerns as well as any “harmful” economic impact. The gubernatorial candidate cited China’s crackdown on proof-of-work miners to back his claims.
“Twenty percent of America’s mines operate in New York state without any oversight or regulation,” said Williams. “We need to ask questions now rather than dealing with the fallout later by creating the right infrastructure to protect Seneca Lake and all of New York state from harmful economic and environmental impacts.”
Politicians and activists have often targeted crypto mining operations around Seneca Lake and across the state. In June, a bill that would have required miners in New York to halt operations for three years — but exempted certain projects operating on renewable energy — in an effort to slow the environmental impact of crypto was defeated in the state’s legislature.
Greenidge Generation’s Bitcoin (BTC) plant operates in the area and aims to dedicate 85 megawatts to crypto mining in 2022. Residents near Seneca Lake have previously claimed that Greenidge’s plant was heating up the body of water and releasing greenhouse gases, threatening the ecosystem of several species of fish and otherwise damaging the environment.
The company has repeatedly denied such claims and threatened to consider “all legal remedies available” against thactivists pushing them. However, New York Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos has also criticized Greenidge, saying in September the firm “has not shown compliance with NY’s climate law” in regards to its BTC mining operations.
Hochul has only been in office since August following the departure of former governor Andrew Cuomo, but will face Williams and other gubernatorial candidates in a November 2022 election. During her time as governor, Hochul has nominated Adrienne Harris to lead New York State’s Department of Financial Services.