Governor Kathy Hochul is indicating she may wait to decide whether to sign into law a bill that would ban some types of crypto mining in the state for two years.
The bill imposes a moratorium on new and renewed permits at fossil fuel-burning plants for a type of crypto mining known as proof-of-work. The process to create bitcoin relies on large amounts of energy.
One company has already restarted a closed coal-burning plant on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and is fueling it with natural gas for crypto mining. Environmental groups strongly oppose the plant. Similar projects using older defunct power plants for crypto mining are also planned.
A union that supports jobs at the crypto mining plans has endorsed Hochul’s run for election. The governor has been undecided, saying she can see both sides of the issue.
In response to a reporter’s question on Tuesday, the governor indicated that she might not act on the bill for some time, leaving open the possibility that she might not sign or veto the measure until after Election Day.
“We’ll be looking at all the bills very, very closely,” Hochul said. “So we’ll have to a lot of work to do over the next six months.”
Later that day, at a debate with her Democratic primary opponents that was held by WCBS-TV and CBS Newsradio 880, Hochul said the measure was not approved by the state Senate until the final hours of the session, and she and her staff need more time to review the details.
“This bill came up at the very end of session. We didn’t have a chance to have our legislative team engage with it, to work out any problems, or to say yes or no or any modifications that normally occur in the process.”
Hochul said she has concerns about restarting fossil fuel plants to run crypto mining operations, but did not tip her hand on how she will act on the bill.
The governor’s political opponents have seized on a New York Times report that finds Hochul received a $40,000 donation from an executive of a crypto mining company that operates in a former aluminum manufacturing plant in Massena. Her running mate in the 2022 elections, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, is benefiting from $1 million dollars in spending on digital ads from a political action committee, or PAC, created by the founder of a major crypto currency exchange.
During the debate, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said there is a “through line” between Hochul’s campaign donations and her policy decisions, include the potential delay on deciding about the crypto mining moratorium.
“And you cannot ignore the connection between money going to a candidate, and then not doing what’s right,” William said.
Williams, who supports the ban, said he’s not against all forms of crypto mining, just the methods that contribute to climate change.
Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi said he backs a moratorium, but would like it to be less than two years.
Hochul said the campaign donations have nothing to do with her decisions.
“There is no connection between any support I’ve received and decisions, because I’ll always do what’s in the best interests of New Yorkers,” she said, “and that has not changed.”
Yvonne Taylor with Seneca Lake Guardian, a group that is trying to protect the lake and that lobbied for the moratorium, said Hochul can prove that the donations aren’t influencing her by quickly signing the bill into law.
In a statement, Taylor asked Hochul to “put New Yorkers first, not big money, crypto billionaires.”