Brasher Town Board places six-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations

·3 min read

Apr. 14—BRASHER — The Brasher Town Board has placed a six-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations until it can develop zoning regulations that govern the operations.

The moratorium will expire on Oct. 31 unless board members renew it.

According to the resolution adopted by board members, "The town board believes that such a moratorium will protect the public interest and welfare of the residents of the town until such comprehensive regulations are adopted. There are currently no regulations regulating cryptocurrency mining operations except the current moratorium within the town."

Current operations would be grandfathered in under the resolution. However, Town Supervisor Mark A. Peets said, they have no current operations, although one company has inquired about setting up in the town.

"We're not allowing cryptocurrency until we have regulations. Before we allow people to go into that business, we want to be able to come up with some rules and regulations," Mr. Peets said.

He said one of the concerns was the amount of electricity one of the operations would consume, putting a strain on National Grid and the Massena Electric Department, which both serve the town.

"They'd be using a whole lot of electricity. It's going to put a burden on the electric system that we are now supposed to use for other things," Mr. Peets said. "So, until we can actually regulate it properly in the town of Brasher through our zoning laws, we're just not going to allow people to come because there's a section in the town of Brasher where folks get their electricity from the Massena Electric Department, which is a cheap rate."

He said he didn't think anyone would build in the National Grid section of the town.

"But, in the MED section of the town, we want to have some regulations put in place before we allow something like that to happen within the town," he said.

He said an individual had wanted to build in the Massena Electric Department portion of the town.

"It's not set up for what they want. They want three-phase power, and there is not three-phase power in that area," Mr. Peets said.

The area is also not zoned for commercial operations.

"So, they can't just put something in without us being able to take a look at our zoning laws before we even allow something," he said.

Resident Carl Patterson asked if there was any environmental impact with cryptocurrency mining, and Mr. Peets said there was.

"These devices pull off a lot of heat, so much that they would need air conditioning or they would vent it out into the atmosphere. That's a lot of heat there, and I've already seen some of them that are in operation at the old Alcoa East plant. The reason they picked that is because there used to be a lot of heat there at one time. Now they just replaced it with a bunch of computers. So, there is an environmental impact," the town supervisor said.

North Country Data Center, a subsidiary of the cryptocurrency mining company Coinmint, set up its operation at the former Alcoa East plant, though the town of Massena's code did not address data centers and technology parks. Even though nothing in the code addressed cryptocurrency operations, the Massena Planning Board approved the site plan and special-use permit for the operation because it fell within guidelines that were part of the code.

Mr. Peets also questioned what would happen if the operation shut down.

"What do they do with that stuff? What do they do with the servers when they're done? There's nothing in our regulations, and they can bury it in the back yard. But we don't want that to happen. So, there are many things that we have to look at before we want that to happen," he said.