Massena Town Board holding hearing on cryptocurrency moratorium Tuesday

Jan. 3—MASSENA — The town board will hold its organizational meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, including a public hearing on extending the current cryptocurrency mining moratorium.

Debra A. Willer and Francis J. Carvel will also be sworn in for one-year unexpired terms.

"We have a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday when we have our organizational meeting. After our installation of both Francis and Debra, we'll get right to the public hearing on that," Town Supervisor Susan J. Bellor said.

Mrs. Willer had been appointed to fill out Mrs. Bellor's term as board member after Mrs. Bellor was elected town supervisor last year. Her term as board member expires in 2023.

Mr. Carvel will be replacing Thomas C. Miller, who did not seek another term. He has served on the village board for 14 years, but chose to run for a town board seat this year. He has two years remaining on his four-year village board term, and trustees are scheduled to make an appointment when they meet at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Mrs. Bellor said they're looking to extend the current cryptocurrency moratorium again until a local law can be established that governs those types of facilities. She recently took part in a webinar on how others have handled cryptocurrency operations in their communities.

"It was good to hear that panel of speakers talking about the pros and cons and how they want to get those regulations done," she said.

She said the public is welcome to come and express their views on Tuesday.

"Some show up, some send me an email, some send me regular mail. Whatever works," Mrs. Bellor said.

The town board extended its moratorium until Jan. 31 during its November meeting, although resident David Fenton said they should skip the moratorium and ban the operations completely until state regulations are in place.

He said that, without regulations, there is no protection for investors if a company went bankrupt, "and I think that in itself it's a major problem. You're taking the risk where right now there's no government regulations. You're perpetuating an industry that doesn't have any protection. They can go bankrupt very easily. You're supporting that. I do not think it's a very good idea."

During the meeting, town attorney Eric J. Gustafson said they were getting close to having local regulations in hand.

"I think we're just about there. We've got some work to do. They're waiting for a draft of cryptocurrency mining operations from me. I have a draft that I think is almost ready for their consideration. I'm just not quite ready, but we're close. I think the January time frame will give us enough time to finalize the regulations, have the committee review it, and then have it out for public hearing sometime in December or January so that it can be adopted," he said.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul had recently signed into law a limited two-year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations in the state.

The state moratorium applies to new permits for cryptocurrency mining companies that are powered by fossil fuels and use proof-of-work authentication methods to validate transaction data. The Bitcoin network relies on proof-of-work authentication.

Under the new bill, the Department of Environmental Conservation will also be required to study the environmental impacts of the crypto industry.

New York is the first state to impose such a ban.