The Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee has passed the Cryptocurrency Energy Conservation Act on October 16. It passed with a narrow vote of 13 for and 12 against.
The bill had been sitting in the house since its introduction to the Committee in June. However, what’s most intriguing is the last-minute removal of a two-year crypto mining ban. This change has ignited controversy within the state.
Committee Chair and Democratic Representative Greg Vitali was the the bill’s sponsor. Vitali disclosed that he faced intense pressure from Democratic Party leaders not to include the mining moratorium in the bill. He claimed that building trade labor unions had a grip on his Democratic colleagues.
Frankly, [the unions have] the ear of House Democrats, and they have the ability to peel off members who would otherwise be supportive of good environmental policyDemocratic Representative Greg Vitali
He was concerned about the opposing the unions could alter the Democratic majority in Pennsylvania’s House. It would have lead him to opt for a bill without the mining ban.
How the Crypto mining ban would’ve impacted
The cancelled two-year ban would have halted the approval of new and renewed permits for crypto mining facilities. Instead, the revised bill now mandates an impact study on mining operations and additional reporting requirements. Miners in the state must submit data about their sites, energy sources, emissions, and resource consumption within six months and then annually.
Pennsylvania to become a Crypto hub
Pennsylvania has recently become a hub for cryptocurrency miners, with Stronghold Digital Mining setting up shop in the third-largest coal-producing state in the United States. This company raised eyebrows when it purchased coal-burning power plants with plans to use their waste to power hundreds of Bitcoin mining rigs. Notably, they sought approval to burn shredded tires to generate a portion of their energy, a move met with strong opposition from local environmental groups.
Another Bitcoin mining firm called TeraWulf is also operating in Pennsylvania. The company uses nuclear power to fuel their operations. Crypto mining and energy consumption is clearly a topic of concern in the state, given the bill and its last-minute modifications.
The removal of the crypto mining ban in the bill highlights the powerful role that labor unions and political dynamics play in shaping environmental policies in Pennsylvania, leaving the future of cryptocurrency mining regulation in the state uncertain.