Montana Cryptocurrency Zoning Law May Be Country’s First
(TNS) — At a commissioners’ meeting last month,
“I think the zoning that
Cryptocurrency mining operations, which are a type of digital asset retrieval, use tremendous amounts of energy.
The county is pushing the
“We’ve made a commitment to pursue 100% clean electricity in our
‘A global crisis’
The topic has been discussed at numerous county meetings for years, which eventually led to the formation of the cryptocurrency zoning project. The ordinances they helped develop have been in the workings since 2018, when they began a deep research dive into the subject.
Early on in the process, five major topics regarding mining operations were addressed: electronic waste, noise, climate impacts, fire safety and utility grid impacts.
The latter two eventually dropped in importance as concerns around them faded.
The county worked quickly on some base proposals and
Considering the county’s larger goals regarding energy usage, climate impact became a major focus. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to earth’s climate change.
“Climate change is a global crisis that we need to address and we simply cannot turn a blind eye towards those impacts on our communities that might be heading us in a different direction from an energy usage standpoint,” Strohmaier said.
In early 2019,
When interim energy rules went into effect,
Energy Keepers recently settled with
The county has contended the laws were not directly aimed at
Cryptocurrency miners are rewarded for energy investment, as they use lots of electricity.
The base process of mining digital currency is having a special type of computer try and solve what basically is a random number combination that helps provide a layer of security for cryptocurrency transactions.
Operators around the world are trying to update the ledger of all transactions for a cryptocurrency. The fastest to solve the problem and update the overall ledger is rewarded with a piece of the digital currency.
In order to get it, miners have to have a proof of work.
“The proof of work, what you’re proving in order be a part of the system, is that you have invested a lot of money in the form of computational capacity and mostly energy to be part of the system,” Maneta said. “The fact it’s so energy intensive isn’t exactly like a side effect, the whole point of the proof of work system is to show that you have invested a lot of energy into it.”
Replacement machines and upgrades to better machines were also issues. These new permanent
As part of its commitment to fighting climate change, discarded e-waste generated has to be recycled through a licensed
Noise was another issue, one which was heavily discussed in July of 2018. The
Under the new zoning laws, facilities may only be present in districts zoned light industrial and heavy industrial.
As for the final two points, it was better understood that large cryptocurrency mine operators rarely overtaxed machines to the point where they overheat, Maneta said.
Utility companies the county worked with, including
The county looked extensively at fires caused by overheating machines and even considered fires caused by overtaxed transformers and other parts of the energy grid that could have had the potential to spark.
Drawn by cheap power
Whether a new cryptocurrency mine will set up shop in
Cheap energy is the major reason cryptocurrency operations have flocked to
One of the most common currencies mined is Bitcoin, which is currently worth around $56,257 per Bitcoin. A year ago this time, one Bitcoin was worth around $7,000. Bitcoin also had a peak in December of 2017 to around $19,000, which was the background for much of the original conversation surrounding the need for more stringent zoning regulations.
“As the price of Bitcoin increased, mining got more lucrative, it got more competitive and people started doing it on a larger scale,” Maneta said. “They started realizing, ‘Hey, if I got to a place where electricity is really cheap and, oh, the climate is cool, because otherwise my computer’s going to overheat, then I can make a lot of money doing this.'”
Other areas in
Should another operator come to
“We’re probably not the first place people think of to call, although we do have an important place in the permitting process,” Dixon said. “So it’s smart to call and find out what the zoning requirements are.”
Added Maneta: “We have talked with several folks who were considering cryptocurrency mining in the county and they had questions related to making sure they understood what the county’s regulations involved and we talked them through especially the renewable energy requirements.
“So we have talked through at length and provided a lot of information on those to people who are considering it.”
(c)2021 Missoulian, Mont. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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