A draft bill that sought to curtail block reward mining in Pennsylvania for two years has passed, but only after the mining moratorium was scrapped.
Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) first announced the Cryptocurrency Energy Conservation Act in June, saying, “Globally, crypto mining consumes more energy than the countries of Argentina and Australia. This high level of energy usage places more stress on the environment and accelerates the climate crisis, in addition to raising costs for consumers.”
However, the legislator had to scrap the mining ban to get the support of his fellow lawmakers. Speaking to local outlet Pennsylvania Capital Star, he confirmed that the bill had to be gutted, or it wouldn’t have secured the votes required.
“I think I learned the hard way in my first six months as majority chair that there’s not a high tolerance for strong environmental policy … even in my own caucus,” he said.
Vitali added that the strong opposition to sweeping changes to the state’s environmental laws is being pushed by trade labor unions. These unions dictate the decisions of some House Democrats, and rather than antagonize them, the lawmakers chose to protect their party’s interest as elections approach.
The bill passed this week with a 13-12 vote. Now watered down, it no longer bans BTC mining in the state. It only requires the miners to report their activities to regulators and for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study on the industry’s impact.
Pennsylvania has attracted BTC miners in recent years as the U.S. became the world leader in the sector. According to Rob Altenburg of local nonprofit PennFuture, idle power plants, tax incentives, and cheap energy sources have made Pennsylvania an ideal destination for miners.
Some miners like Stronghold Digital Mining have bought out idle coal power plants where they have launched mining operations. The company reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that the state subsidizes 60% of its costs as “it burns waste.”
Watch: Think of Bitcoin mining as financial self-discipline
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