By John Olsen
As we enter the hottest months of the year here in Upstate New York, winter has come for the blockchain and crypto industry. In a bear market, things may look bleak, but there will be a spring at some point and those that emerge will be stronger than ever and prepared to offer new opportunities through the ever-expanding applications for blockchain technology. However, in New York those opportunities will evaporate in the summer sun should legislation that imposes a two-year ban on some forms of cryptocurrency mining operations be enacted.
Proponents of the ban will call it a pause, a break, a chance to study the impact of mining to the environment. And two years may seem like a short time frame, but to this lightning-paced industry, it is a lifetime. And it is certainly more than enough time for miners and their investors to look elsewhere to take their operations. It is that perspective from which I would like to share my experience in engaging with members of the blockchain community only a few short weeks ago in Austin, TX at Consensus, the largest blockchain conference and festival in the world. What I heard over several days in the 100+ degree Texas heat chilled me more than the crypto winter the industry would enter days after the festival ended.
In speaking with developers, investors, creators, miners, executives, and others it became clear to me that New York’s approach to crypto is an outlier. Regardless of whether they supported crypto mining, had interest in New York, or had a general knowledge of the legislative process, almost all of them agreed that a first-in-the-nation, crypto-specific moratorium focused on energy use was a uniquely heavy-handed message to the industry. For the many investors, entrepreneurs, and executives who were familiar with New York’s legislative process and the broad contours of the issue, they indicated that the mere introduction of the bill was enough for them to reconsider their New York operations. Shockingly some have already disregarded the state entirely as they considered where to establish their businesses, precisely because of the state’s regulatory and legislative approach, including the seven-year-old Bitlicense and now, with policy like the anti-mining bill. To say the least: I was extremely disheartened to hear so many trailblazing entrepreneurs dismiss New York and look elsewhere for investment and hiring.
As a lifelong New York resident, and someone who has repeatedly watched from the professional sidelines as politics put up nearly insurmountable barriers to entry for all kinds of new and innovative industries that could bring significant job growth, economic development, and revenue to the state, it was a bit of disappointing déjà vu down in Texas. There is no better recent example of an anti-growth perspective than watching 25,000 six-figure jobs disappear with Amazon’s withdrawal from New York City as the chosen location for its new headquarters only a few short years ago. And once again, the potential for progress is being halted in the name of environmental justice that does little, if any, to impact the serious questions of environmental stewardship and clean power generation that is so urgently needed.
Despite the challenges the crypto industry faces, I remain hopeful for its future growth in New York. For the first time in a hundred years, New York’s governor hails from upstate, exactly where the crypto industry is trying to grow its footprint and hire hundreds of engineers, technicians, electrical workers, and developers. It is also upstate that questions of broader economic development, and the future of the clean electric grid are so pressing. The crypto industry is a ready partner to help the state meet those challenges.
But to fulfill its potential, the crypto industry needs a very simple thing: the message that it is welcome here. That there is a way to partner with the state instead of dedicating resources to fighting adverse policy and misinformation about how it works and what it creates. That there are other challenges facing the industry that need to be addressed. All of that can be accomplished with the stroke of a pen. So, I urge Governor Hochul to veto the mining bill and sign the taskforce bill. And I hope others will too.
From one upstater to another, it is time to put politics aside, and govern for all of New York.
John Olsen is the New York State Lead for the Blockchain Association and a life-long resident of Albany County where he has been a government relations professional for nearly two decades.
About Blockchain Association:
The Blockchain Association is the collective voice of the cryptocurrency industry. Our members include the sector’s leading investors, companies, projects, and protocols, working together to support a future-forward, pro-innovation national policy and regulatory framework for the crypto economy. Find us at theblockchainassociation.org. Follow us @BlockchainAssn.
The future of cryptocurrency in New York lies in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s hands after lawmakers passed two seemingly contradictory bills on Friday, June 3, 2022. We’ve teamed up with locally grown Foundry Digital to tackle this pressing topic and the potential impact on WNY.
About Foundry Digital:
Foundry was created to meet the institutional demand for better capital access, efficiency, and transparency in the digital currency mining and staking industry. As a Digital Currency Group company, Foundry taps unparalleled institutional expertise, capital, and market intelligence to provide North American bitcoin miners and global manufacturers with the resources to build, maintain, and secure decentralized networks. Foundry empowers miners with the tools they need to build tomorrow’s decentralized infrastructure. We are protocol-agnostic and seek to support like-minded blockchain entrepreneurs who share our mission to advance the industry.
Click to E-Mail Gov Hochul the message below.
Dear Governor Hochul,
I am a resident of New York who STRONGLY OPPOSES the Proof of Work digital mining moratorium bill. I believe that blockchain and cryptocurrency mining are essential new technologies for the third generation of the internet. New York missed out on the second generation of the internet, as all the jobs and tax revenue went to places like California that embraced the technology early. New York now has a chance to bring jobs, financial inclusion, and renewable energy production to New York through this new technology. I ask you to please veto this bill and embrace the Crypto Task Force Study Bill so we can learn how to promote this new technology for the betterment of NY while also understanding its environmental implications. It would be prudent to study this issue before we alienate the entire crypto industry through a blanket ban, especially since President Biden and California are also studying this issue and not banning the technology.
I thank you for your consideration.