On February 23, the Montana State Senate passed a bill aimed to support the cryptocurrency mining industry in the state, and specifically upend the Cryptocurrency Mining Zoning Regulations of Missoula County introduced in 2021. The bill was drafted with the support of Satoshi Action Fund, a Bitcoin advocacy group.
The goal of the zoning regulations was to "mitigate the negative effects of proof-of-work blockchain processing used in cryptocurrency mining operations." High electricity consumption and generation of electronic waste, as well as noise pollution, were cited as some of the main problems associated with crypto mining.
The law specifically highlighted that "the high energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining operations runs counter to Missoula County's objective to reduce its contribution to climate change," and required all Bitcoin miners to purchase or build renewable energy assets proportional to the consumed electricity.
The bill has created an opportunity to relax regulations and re-legalize at-home crypto mining, which is currently allowed only in industrial districts.
It also mentions that crypto mining contributes to the economy and has positive effects for both businesses and individuals in the USA, particularly due to its potential to stabilize the grid and generate revenue for infrastructure development. The bill aims to represent residents of the state of Montana who want to "protect the right of individuals and businesses to mine digital assets and create legal certainty for the digital asset mining industry."
Among the changes to be introduced if the bill is approved are discriminatory utility rates for mining cryptocurrencies and taxes on their use:
"Digital assets used as a method of payment may not be subject to any additional tax, withholding, assessment, or charge by the state or a local government that is based solely on the use of the digital asset as the method of payment."
The proposed law passed the Senate by a vote of 37-13 in the Senate and now waits for approval from the state's House.