ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new crypto-mining bill under consideration by Governor Kathy Hochul will put a halt on crypto mining operations across the state, stopping the growth of a local crypto mining company, Foundry.
Three years ago, Foundry had only three employees. Today, they have 170 people all working on crypto mining.
It’s a term often met with confusion, according to Foundry Director of Public Policy Kyle Schneps.
“Bitcoin mining has nothing to do with actual mining, it’s just a slang term for processing,” he said. “It’s just data centers, the same as Amazon, or Apple.”
Officials said the organization serves the digital currency sector, offering a range of services relating to cryptocurrency mining, staking, and related blockchain technologies.
Foundry, a Digital Currency Group subsidiary, has quickly become the largest digital currency company based in Western New York, serving clients across North America. Officials said the company’s Bitcoin mining pool is the largest in the world, helping put Rochester on the map as a leading U.S. cryptocurrency hub. Its teams work from offices in Pittsford and Fairport.
As Bitcoin is built off the idea of decentralized infrastructure, individual mining operations help to secure the network for those investing in Bitcoin.
“It’s a currency that no government can debase and inflate away, and no one actor can corrupt, that’s why it’s so important to have this decentralized infrastructure,” he said.
Currently, he says nearly 50 million Americans invest in this network of digital currency. But some lawmakers fear the mining operations — which require a lot of processing power, and, therefore, energy — are a threat to New York’s long-term climate goals.
A bill up for consideration at the governor’s office would place a two-year moratorium on any new or renewed air permits for crypto mining power plants.
“There’s a lot to consider, but it is very much on our desk with hundreds and hundreds of other bills as well,” Hochul said.
Schneps says this comes at a time when their industry is growing. He pointed to the new job opportunities created by Foundry and similar operations.
“This would limit hiring,” Schneps said. “Bitcoin miners only use 0.2% percent of global energy consumption. We believe that they [investors] are entitled to the same protection that Wall Street and big banks use.”
Schneps says people have to have that desire to be educated — and learn more.
For a topic as dense as this, he encourages an open mind and hopes Foundry can continue competing with jobs in Silicon Valley.
The Department of Environmental Conservation recently denied an air permit request for a bitcoin mining operation along Seneca Lake.
The state’s permitting decision involved Greenidge Generation, an old coal-fired plant by the shore of Seneca Lake which had once been shut down, but was converted from coal to natural gas several years ago and began bitcoin mining in earnest in 2020.
In rejecting the renewals, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the plant’s conversion to a cryptocurrency mining operation meant it was creating a significant new demand for energy “for a wholly new purpose unrelated to its original permit.”
“Instead of helping to meet the current electricity needs of the state as originally described, the facility is operating primarily to meet its own significant new energy load,” the agency said in its letter to the company.
The company said it would continue operating under its current permit while it challenged the decision. It said there was “no credible legal basis” for the denial.
“We did take significant action, and we are hearing people are pleased with that decision, to make sure we don’t continue using fossil fuel generated energy sources for the industry. There’s a lot to consider,” she said. “I’m still reviewing it.”