A bill was introduced to the New York State Senate that seeks to halt all bitcoin mining for three years until all of its effects on the environment are estimated. House Bill 6486 was introduced by Senator Kevin Parker to the state Senate Environment Committee on Monday.
The bill will specifically analyze 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 subject to a 120-day public comment period.
Bitcoin mining centers have been expanding in New York City, according to the bill, most often in former fossil fuel-fired power plants.
The bill argues that a single bitcoin transaction consumes as much energy as an American household for a day; the entirety of bitcoin mining can consume as much electrical power as a country the size of Sweden.
Bitcoin mining has grown substantially in New York City as bitcoin exponentially increased in value since April 2020. In one year the cryptocurrency has increased in price by 800%.
For many environmental groups, bitcoin mining would affect New York State’s goals to lower its carbon emissions. According to a letter sent by the environmental groups, Earth Justice and Sierra Club, up to more than 30 former coal plants could end up being adapted as bitcoin mining centers.
If the bill passes, bitcoin mining centers would only be able to operate after a full review of their environmental impact, which is regulated under the New York State Environmental Quality Act.
Upon the news of the bill that would ban bitcoin mining in New York, the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez said that “This is another step by NY in wrong direction, in the city of Miami you can mine bitcoin with nuclear energy.”
The mayor of Miami has openly promoted the adoption of bitcoin in the city and has even gone so far as to propose that public officials be paid part of their salary with bitcoin. In June, Florida will host the Bitcoin 2021 mega conference on the world of cryptocurrencies.
How much energy does bitcoin mining consume?
A study by the University of Cambridge estimated that electricity consumption by the bitcoin network represents about 20,863 terawatt-hours, or about 0.65% of global consumption. If bitcoin were a country, it would rank 27th in highest electricity consumption.
The study also found that bitcoin could completely function without the need for the use of fossil fuels, as the installed capacity of power plants would be enough to power the current bitcoin grid 29 times, while the world’s installed capacity of solar and wind power could do it up to 10 times.
At present the United States has more than 7% of the bitcoin network processing capacity. In first place is China, which hogs almost more than 65 % of the cryptocurrency processing capacity, while Russia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Iran take third, fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively, after the United States.
In China’s Xianjin province alone, there is more bitcoin mining than in the entire United States, accounting for about 35% of the world’s mining of this cryptocurrency.