A small lakeside town in upstate New York is fed up with Bitcoin miners using up so much of its low-cost electricity.
Plattsburgh, whose residents are a quick jaunt from the Canadian border, has put an 18-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining to preserve natural resources, the health of its residents, and the “character and direction” of the city.
“It is the purpose of this Local Law to facilitate the adoption of land use and zoning and/or municipal lighting department regulations to protect and enhance the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources,” Plattsburgh said after holding a public hearing on the matter Thursday.
For a year and a half, the almost 20,000-resident city will not consider new applications for commercial cryptocurrency mining. And if you break the rules, you’ll owe Plattsburgh up to $1,000 for each day you violate the moratorium.
Mining, a process by which individuals or groups get paid in new Bitcoins to run complex mathematical equations on high-powered computers in order to confirm the validity of transactions, has drawn scrutiny from environmentalists who say it’s sucking up too much electricity. Some have estimated that Bitcoin miners will use more power than electric cars in the near term.
Plattsburgh gets cheap power from the St. Lawrence River, driving down electricity costs for residents, but it exceeded its allotted amount of hydropower in December and January, according to a local newspaper. Some complained that their bills surged as much as $300.
The city council said it needs time to consider zoning laws and lighting regulations “before commercial cryptocurrency mining operations results in irreversible change to the character and direction of the city.”
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