(The Center Square) — The state House revived plans for an impact study on cryptocurrency mining and potential reporting mandates for companies at work in the industry.
The House Environmental Resources and Energy committee voted Monday to remove a two-year moratorium on new operations from House Bill 1476, though it still faced Republican opposition.
Without the moratorium in the bill, it advanced with 13 votes and awaits consideration by the full House.
Committee Majority Chariman Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Havertown – who also sponsored the legislation – argued that its important for the state to prepare for the future.
“This bill simply is a reporting and study bill,” he said. “It doesn’t prohibit any cryptocurrency operation from operating in any way. It simply requires them to report what they are doing. Right now we’re in a situation where many cryptocurrency operations are gravitating towards Pennsylvania and we simply don’t know where they are and what they’re doing.”
Rep. Martin Causer, R-Bradford, saw the bill in less innocent terms.
“I am strongly opposed to the bill,” he said. “I think the reporting requirements are burdensome and not necessary.”
Cryptocurrency mining has grown in the commonwealth in recent years, taking advantage of a sales tax exemption originally aimed to attract data centers. The operations use special-purpose computers to mine bitcoin, powered with nuclear energy and waste coal. Critics have pointed out that the operations also drive up emissions for pollutants like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.
Causer argued they can tackle Pennsylvania’s pollution legacy.
“A lot of these operations utilize waste coal and actually are beneficial to cleaning up waste coal in the commonwealth — which I think is beneficial,” he said.
When Vitali tried to run HB1476 in June, with a provision that required a two-year moratorium on new cryptocurrency operations, leadership killed the bill “five minutes” before the start of a meeting, Vitali said.