Missoula County, Montana commissioners have instructed their staff to begin work on interim zoning rules that would regulate power usage for companies like cryptocurrency miners, The Missoulian reported today. The move comes in the wake of two previous discussions about energy usage at the Bonner HyperBlock center.
Officials have suggested that the mining operation uses energy equal to one-third of the country’s households. Missoula Country energy conservation and sustainability coordinator Diana Maneta reportedly claimed that the company’s use of that energy contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, despite the fact that the power is generated by a hydroelectric dam:
“When you buy existing renewable energy, essentially you are displacing previous customers, which are then using other sources. You are then having an impact on climate change.
Energy that’s generated from a source like a dam like that is sold, whether it’s long-term contracts or (short-term sales), it’s safe to assume that energy (from the dam) was previously being used.”
The Board of Country Commissioners plans to meet on April 4 to discuss new interim zoning regulations that could directly impact the Bonner mining operation and other cryptocurrency miners in the country.
Potential regulations could include a mandate that crypto operations buy new renewable power that completely offsets their energy consumption, by either generating the power themselves or buying into new renewable power development. The commissioners are also expected to discuss noise regulations and recycling of “electronic waste.”
Local media outlet KPAX reported that all three of the board’s commissioners cited HyperBlock’s alleged environmental impact as a “pressing emergency.” According to Commissioner Dave Strohmaier, however, officials are interested in finding a way for mining operations to exist in the area:
“I’d be very interested in looking at ways in which cryptocurrency mining operations could exist, and take a look at how that facility, that company’s construction of additional renewable energy, might fulfill that.
If we’re going to allow it, at the rate they’re using energy, they darned well better be using renewable energy. In fact, they better be creating new renewable energy.”