After remaining cryptic for months on the fate of the proposed two-year moratorium on crypto-mining, Governor Kathy Hochul has now signed the bill into law, as her administration’s long study of the bill coincidentally concluded shortly after she survived an unexpectedly close gubernatorial race. 

It’s a shame Hochul couldn’t have made her position clear prior to the election, giving voters a chance to judge her on this important issue. This episode will never be highlighted as a profile in courage. 

But her signing statement explaining her support for the law is quite a case study in political messaging. It serves up a word salad of Newspeak to obscure the contradiction between her avowed interest in developing the economy of Upstate New York by attracting jobs of the future, and her support for a law that will make it harder for the market to do that. 

Sadly, Hochul’s vision of supporting economic development is to pick political winners and give away taxpayer’s money to them. This is classic industrial policy, which has a long record of failure. But history is rarely a deterrent to politicians who think they’re smarter than the market.   

The moratorium is not even necessary to the bill’s underlying purpose – requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to draft a generic environmental impact statement for crypto-mining operations to guide future air quality permit decisions. The DEC is perfectly capable of developing such a permit while evaluating current permit requests under existing rules. 

Hochul should have vetoed this bill. But as she noted in her signing statement, her decision was made with a nod to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. That monumental act of top-down social engineering requires the whole of New York’s economy to be redesigned by politicians and bureaucrats not for the purpose of meeting the demands of consumers, but to achieve climate-related goals legislated by the political class. 

What could go wrong? Even more of what has already been going wrong economically in the Empire State – sluggish economic growth, population decline, the exodus of local employers, and the choice by out of state companies not to invest here at all. 

Hang onto your hats, New Yorkers. The crypto-moratorium is just one illustration of a burgeoning, CLCPA-driven assault on the vitality of the free market.

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