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Missoula County Commissioners Look To Require Renewable Energy Practices For Mining Operations



Despite heavy zoning and energy requirements, the county wants to remain open and welcoming to crypto mining facilities.

County Commissioners Josh Slotnick and Dave Strohmaier of Missoula County, Montana, have drafted regulation proposals regarding zoning policies and renewable energy practices for the county’s crypto mining operations. The county is hoping the regulations will “mitigate the adverse impacts of cryptocurrency mining operations identified by the county, including high energy consumption, noise, and electronic waste.”

The first document outlines the county’s plan to “[establish] locations where cryptocurrency mining operations may be sited in Missoula County and conditions that must be met in order to protect the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of county residents.” As far as zoning is concerned, the document says mining operations will only be located in light industrial or heavy industrial districts within Missoula County. The move to the two industrial districts is meant, in part, to help work against the tendency for mining operations to “create noise pollution that negatively impacts nearby residents, businesses, and wildlife.”

The renewable energy requirements are a bit more extensive. According to the document, mining operations will be required to verify that their electronic waste is being recycled by a recycling firm licensed by a department of environmental quality. To balance energy consumption, Missoula County mining operations will also be required to “introduce new renewable energy onto the electrical grid beyond what would have been developed otherwise,” on top of implementing renewable energy practices “to offset 100 percent of the electricity consumed by the cryptocurrency mining operation.”

As for crypto mining operations that already exist in Missoula County, the document states that these sites will essentially be grandfathered in, with a few conditions. Mining operations won’t have to move locations if they aren’t already in a light or heavy industrial district, mostly because they won’t be allowed to move, enlarge, extend, or reconstruct their facilities, other than to construct what is necessary to accommodate for the renewable energy requirements.

The regulations proposed by the two commissioners in the second published document, which outlines the need for zoning and energy changes, targets one specific mining facility within Missoula County with a large energy consumption: “[The] estimated total electricity consumption of cryptocurrency mining in Missoula County is equivalent to one-third of residential electricity consumption in the county.” The facility is not explicitly mentioned, however, according to a report from the Missoula County channel eight affiliate, KPAX, that energy is being consumed by a single mining facility: The HyperBlock center in Bonner, Montana, which is “the only industry of its kind in [Missoula County].”

To be clear, Nicole Rowley, chair of the Missoula Board of County Commissioners, told KPAX these requirements aren’t meant to scare away HyperBlock, or any crypto mining facilities looking to set up operations within the county. The second document also explains that these regulations, if passed, will only be in place for a year to provide the county with “more time to investigate this issue further to evaluate the best alternatives for the community.”

With a hearing concerning the proposals scheduled for April 4, the regulations could come into effect sooner rather than later.

Nicholas Ruggieri studied English with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not quoting Vines at anyone who’s willing to listen, you’ll find him listening to too many podcasts, reading too many books, and crocheting too many sweaters for his dogs, RT and Peterman.

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