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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Opposes State-Wide Bitcoin Mining Ban

Eric Adams – the crypto-bullish mayor of New York City – stands against the proposed bill to ban carbon-based Bitcoin mining across the state. In a recent interview, he revealed plans to speak with Governor Kathy Hochul to encourage her to veto the bill.

Reversing His Position?

Speaking with the New York business paper Crain’s on Monday, the mayor claimed that the proposed ban could interfere with mining upstate. Considering that billions of dollars go into crypto already, he doesn’t want to interfere with the industry’s growth.

“When you look at the billions of dollars that are spent on cryptocurrency – New York is the leader,” he said. “We can’t continue to put barriers in place.”

Eric Adams - The New York Times
Eric Adams. Source: The New York Times

His comments may strike some as surprising, given the mayor’s opposition to Bitcoin mining in the past. In February, the politician sided with environmentalists in a statement to Albany’s state legislators, claiming he supports “cryptocurrency,” but not “crypto mining.”

However, he’s generally been supportive of cryptocurrency in the past. He accepted his first three paychecks as mayor in Bitcoin, and offered much praise for digital assets during his electoral campaign. He even suggested that blockchain technology should be a subject for children in school, preparing them for the future.

Nevertheless, on the issue of Bitcoin mining, he’s towed the party line. Democrats have consistently opposed the industry as being overly energy intensive, potentially interfering with the climate goals of various jurisdictions. Weeks ago, the Biden administration even began preparing a report to reduce Bitcoin’s energy footprint.

Bitcoin, Mining, and Energy

Bitcoin’s energy consumption stems from its “proof of work” consensus mechanism. To determine a canonical ledger of accounts (or blockchain) in a decentralized way, the network measures “work” to determine whose block receives approval.

To do this, users (aka “miners”) must race to solve a computationally difficult and energy-intensive mathematical problem. The first to solve the problem by producing the correct answer, or “hash”, earns rights to the next block. They also earn the correspondent transaction fees and subsidy attached to that block.

Bitcoin touched its highest hash rate ever on Thursday at 258 exahashes per second. (EH/s). An “exahash” is one-quintillion hashes. Its energy consumption, according to an index from Cambridge, is higher than that of all of Norway.

These metrics together create substantial security against the chain experiencing attacks or alterations by a malicious actor. However, many believe its electricity cost is unnecessary, and propose replacing its security model with a proof of stake mechanism.

Specifics of the Ban

The New York Mining ban, which has already been passed by the Senate, wouldn’t technically target all miners. It would specifically place a moratorium on fossil fuel permit renewals for those engaged in carbon-based Bitcoin mining. Those mining using renewable energy, however, will not suffer from the impact.

Some see such legislation as redundant, given that New York Mining is already 80% powered by sustainable energy. The worldwide energy mix for mining currently sits at about 60% renewable, according to the Bitcoin Mining Council.

However, others fear the moratorium could set a poor precedent for the industry. It would be a first-of-its-kind state-wide ban on blockchain technology infrastructure. Therefore, such a move could inspire other blue states with environmental concerns to do the same.

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Andrew Yang – a former Democratic nominee candidate and Bitcoin supporter – told CNBC in May the ban could be ineffective.

“In my mind, a lot of this stuff is going to end up pushing activity to other places that might not achieve the goal of the policymakers,” said Yang.

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