Home / Markets News & Opinions / Montana County Delays Bitcoin Mining Ban, Admits ‘We Don’t Understand’ It

Montana County Delays Bitcoin Mining Ban, Admits ‘We Don’t Understand’ It

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:08 PM
Samantha Chang
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:08 PM

A county in the U.S. state of Montana has postponed voting on a proposed one-year ban on bitcoin mining, saying it doesn’t understand cryptocurrency mining well enough to make an informed decision.

“We all understand that we don’t understand,” said Jean Curtiss, commissioner of the Missoula County Commission. “We don’t know all the impacts in the future or the long game.”

Curtiss made the remarks after a two-hour hearing on June 14, where proponents and opponents of bitcoin mining argued for or against their respective positions, the Missoulian reported.

The Missoula County Commission was supposed to vote on a proposed one-year ban on new or expanded cryptocurrency mining in the region, but has delayed the vote until August. The commission said it needs to review details before rendering a decision.

Concerns Over Noise And Electricity Costs

Opponents of bitcoin mining identified five key concerns:

  1. Noise pollution from computer cooling equipment.
  2. Potential increase in electricity prices.
  3. Increased greenhouse gas emissions from mining.
  4. Fire hazards caused by running computers around the clock.
  5. Electronic waste caused by nonstop computer use.

Cryptocurrency mining has become increasingly popular in Montana and the Pacific Northwest because of the region’s low electricity costs and cool temperatures, which keep mining computers from overheating.

Two commercial-sized crypto mining plants are currently operating in Missoula County. Until recently, the Bonner Bitcoin data center was the largest in the world, the Missoula Current  reported.

It operated 12,000 servers in 2017, and had plans to increase that to 55,000 servers.

Bitcoin mining rigs. Source: Shutterstock

But the area’s residents complained about the noise caused by the fans used to cool the computers that mine crypto.

“The noise is bad,” Joanne Weimer told the Missoulian. “Some people are going to have to move. Our property values are going down.”

Another resident, who says she owns bitcoin, lamented that she can no longer keep her windows open during the summer because of the noise from the crypto-mining computer fans.

Plant Exec: We Can Make Mining Eco-Friendly

Proponents of bitcoin mining say they’re in the process of replacing the old noisy fan blades with quieter ones.

Dan Stivers, the manager of bitcoin mining facility Project Spokane, said his plant buys its power from a renewable local hydroelectric source, so environmental concerns aren’t an issue. He also said his plant recycles or repurposes all its computer hardware.

Stivers said the county should consider all the new jobs and economic growth that crypto mining could bring to the region. “You need to consider the long game, not only for Bonner but for Missoula County and the State of Montana,” he said. “This is emerging technology.”

Meanwhile, in Upstate New York, construction is already underway to build the world’s largest bitcoin mining center. As CCN.com has reported, mining firm Coinmint has invested $50 million to convert a 1,300-acre Alcoa aluminum plant in Massena, New York.

Coinmint plans to invest up to $700 million in the facility, which will create an estimated 150 jobs over the next 18 months. The new cryptocurrency mining center is expected to be fully operational by June 2019.

Featured image from Shutterstock.