Union pressure affects legislation.
Last October 16, Greg Vitali, Democratic representative and chairman of the Pennsylvania House Resources and Environmental Energy Committee, announced a modification to his Cryptocurreny Energy Conservation Act bill. Moved, he says, by pressure from leaders of the Democratic Party itself, he has removed a stipulation for a two-year ban on cryptocurrency mining to regulate energy consumption in the sector in the event of a moratorium, he told that same day to The Pennsylvania Capital-Star, a local media outlet. Such a ban was intended to curb approvals of new permits to carry out the installation of cryptocurrency mining.
The bill was approved by a narrow margin: 13 votes in favor and 12 against. After its presentation to the Commission on June 21, there was no sign of progress in its processing. In Vitali’s view, there is “chronic opposition” by construction workers to environmental policies, not to mention -he insisted- that they have the Democrats on their side. Vitali points out that the labor unions had a big influence in this regard. Since the unions have the attention of the Democrats,
“Frankly” –he says- “[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 policy”.
It is, in a sense, a crossroads where the very dynamics of politics forces one to compromise, to make concessions in order to move projects forward. “I learned the hard way in my first six months as majority chair that there’s not a high tolerance for strong environmental policy”, he argued. Hence, going against the unions proved to be an unwise move in the face of maintaining the Democratic majority in the House. It was preferable, therefore, to sacrifice the moratorium than to sacrifice the entire bill.
Indeed, the cryptocurrency mining company Stronghold Digital Mining established the headquarters of its operations in Pennsylvania, where it has acquired two coal-burning power plants. The past july, the company sought approval to burn shredded tires to supply up to 15% of its energy needs. The purpose of this is to employ the waste into energy to power hundreds of Bitcoin mining rigs. It is certainly clear that this is a proposal that incites opposition from environmental groups.
In replacement of the ban, an impact study on mining operations and other reporting requirements were established in the bill: with a six-month deadline, Pennsylvania miners must provide information on the number of locations where mining operates, their extent, energy sources, and reports of energy and water emissions and consumption.
Such reports will have to be submitted annually by miners, while new miners shall submit the same report in advance of their operations.