Recently, the Montana Senate passed a bill that aims to safeguard the interests of crypto miners operating within the state. 

The proposed law is currently being reviewed by the Montana House of Representatives and seeks to eliminate discriminatory regulations that could hamper their mining operations, both for individuals and commercial entities. 

The bill seeks to exempt digital assets used as payment from taxes, and allow home crypto mining that uses less than 1 megawatt of energy annually, except when it violates existing noise bylaws.

The proposed pro-crypto mining bill in Montana aims to remove any energy rate classification that hinders home crypto mining and digital asset businesses. Lobbyists and crypto companies have been working together for years to establish crypto-friendly laws in the state. Montana has high wind energy potential, but remote wind projects struggle due to the need for long transmission lines. However, the bill can be an early buyer of that power and help to bring customers (Bitcoin miners) to the state. There is a misconception that mining is bad for the grid or the environment is holding back the crypto-mining industry in the United States, despite it being a powerful tool for balancing the grid and cleaning up the environment.

Regulatory policies also fail to consider the positive aspect of this process. One of these would be the grid balancing concept. 

Crypto mining is best suited for states with grid-balancing programs. These programs pay participants to lower their power consumption during times of high power prices or low supply. Miners can easily reduce their power consumption at any hour of the day, making them ideal participants in such programs.

What is the Montana pro-crypto bill?

The proposed bill seeks to establish a “right to mine digital assets” in Montana and prevent discriminatory electricity rates for crypto miners. The bill also protects “home” mining and removes local government’s power to use zoning laws to prohibit crypto mining operations. 

Additionally, the bill prohibits extra taxes on the use of crypto as a payment method and categorizes digital assets as personal property, similar to stocks and bonds. The Montana Senate passed the bill on Feb. 23 with 37 for and 13 against, and it will now be presented to the House for approval. Finally, the bill will require the signature of Governor Greg Gianforte to become law, who may choose to veto it.

How Montana Could Benefit from Pro-Crypto Mining Bill

Proponents of the bill anticipate that Montana can attract mining companies by updating legislation, which will, directly and indirectly, boost the region’s economy. 

Montana State Senator Daniel Zolnikov, the primary advocate of the bill, believes that Montana has a lot to gain by embracing the digital asset industry. 

By permitting unrestricted crypto mining operations, Montana can potentially attract more businesses and investments from the cryptocurrency sector, creating jobs in rural communities. 

Senator Zolnikov hopes that this move will signal to the larger digital asset industry that Montana welcomes their innovation and new companies into the state.

Sustainability Concerns Surrounding Montana’s Pro-Crypto Mining Bill

Despite optimism about the potential benefits of crypto mining, some are concerned about the impact on small towns and communities. 

Colin Read, former mayor of Plattsburgh, New York, and SUNY economics professor, pointed out that mining companies often fail to deliver on their promises of job creation

Additionally, an influx of crypto mining companies could cause energy and sustainability challenges, as seen in New York, which experienced skyrocketing retail energy rates due to increased demand. 

As a result, the New York Public Service Commission introduced steeper energy tariffs for crypto miners to mitigate the issue. 

Similar challenges have arisen in Texas, where crypto mining businesses have set up operations, leading to power grid overloading during extreme weather conditions. 

In Montana, Missoula County has implemented requirements for crypto mining firms to either consume or generate enough renewable energy to cover 100% of their operations, responding to concerns about power consumption and pollution. These sustainability concerns underscore the importance of balancing the potential economic benefits of pro-crypto mining legislation with sustainable energy practices.

Montana’s weather conditions, including summer heat rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius)  and sub-zero temperatures in winter, contribute to the state’s high per capita energy consumption rate. Due to environmental concerns surrounding the environmental impact of crypto mining, several American states have implemented laws limiting energy-intensive activities, such as placing caps on energy usage or restricting energy sources. 

For instance, New York recently imposed a temporary ban on mining firms using non-renewable energy sources to reduce the state’s carbon footprint. Montana may face similar sustainability challenges if its pro-crypto mining bill is passed. 

Senator Zolnikov addressed these concerns, stating that Montana already has an attractive energy mix for digital asset mining and that the bill aims to provide legal certainty for long-term operations. Montana has access to geothermal, wind, solar, and hydro energy sources, including the Missouri River and its tributaries, which are used to generate hydroelectric energy.

Will the pro-crypto bill pass?

Montana’s pro-crypto mining bill aims to attract more cryptocurrency mining businesses to the state, potentially bringing positive transformations. However, the bill’s approval could lead to initial sustainability challenges related to eco-friendly and sustainable energy. 

While Montana presently has both renewable and non-renewable energy sources, the state’s response to emerging changes in the wake of the pro-crypto mining legislation will be crucial. Balancing economic benefits with sustainable energy practices will be a delicate balancing act for Montana.