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Pennsylvania reverses crypto mining permit ban amid union pressure

TL;DR

  • Pennsylvania drops crypto mining ban due to union pressure, opting for reporting requirements instead.
  • Political considerations impact crypto regulation as Democratic support takes precedence.
  • Revisions to the bill aim to balance environmental concerns with the growing crypto-mining industry.

Pennsylvania’s proposed cryptocurrency mining ban has been removed from a bill aimed at regulating the industry’s energy consumption. The move came after intense pressure from trade labor unions and concerns about the impact on Democratic Party support. Instead of the ban, the bill now imposes ongoing reporting requirements on crypto miners operating in the state.

Pennsylvania’s House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee narrowly passed the Cryptocurrency Energy Conservation Act, ending months of legislative inaction, with 13 votes in favor and 12 against. The bill had been sitting in the committee since its introduction on June 21.

Democratic Representative Greg Vitali, the chair of the committee and the bill’s sponsor, cited pressure from trade labor unions and Democratic Party leaders as the reason for removing the proposed two-year crypto mining ban. According to Vitali, the building trade labor unions had a consistent history of opposing environmental policies. He claimed that these unions held significant influence over his Democratic colleagues.

“Frankly, [the unions have] the ear of House Democrats, and they can peel off members who would otherwise be supportive of good environmental policy,”

Vitali stated, underscoring the sway these groups held within the Democratic majority in Pennsylvania’s House.

Impact on Pennsylvania’s growing crypto mining industry

Vitali emphasized that pushing against the unions’ interests could risk the Democratic majority in the state’s House, making it preferable to pass the bill without the mining ban rather than not pass it at all. He noted that his earlier experiences as majority chair taught him that strong environmental policies had limited support.

The proposed two-year ban would have halted the issuance of new and renewed permits for crypto mining facilities in Pennsylvania. However, following the removal of the ban, the bill has been revised to include an impact study on mining operations and new reporting requirements.

Under the revised bill, crypto miners in the state must submit various pieces of information within six months. This information includes the number and size of mining sites operated, details about energy sources, emissions reports, and data on energy and water consumption. Pennsylvania-based crypto miners will be required to submit these reports annually. Additionally, new miners entering the state must provide the same information before commencing operations. 

The decision to abandon the two-year crypto-mining ban has significant implications for Pennsylvania’s emerging crypto-mining industry. Stronghold Digital Mining, a crypto mining company, recently established operations in the state, which is the third-largest coal-producing state in the United States. The company had acquired two coal-burning power plants with the intent to use plant waste to power hundreds of Bitcoin mining rigs.

In July, Stronghold Digital Mining had sought approval to burn shredded tires to produce up to 15% of its energy needs, a move that faced strong opposition from local environmental groups.

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Lacton Muriuki

Lacton is an experienced journalist specializing in blockchain-based technologies, including NFTs and cryptocurrency. He dabbles in daily crypto news rich with well-researched stats. He adds aesthetic appeal, adding a human face to technology.

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