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Bitcoin Mining Controversy Reaches a Boiling Point in Arkansas

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“The skyrocketing energy consumption of Bitcoin mining has sparked a heated debate, as environmental concerns clash with the potential for lucrative returns in the digital currency realm.”

In Arkansas, the debate over digital asset mining continues to grow. Back in July, cities and counties were resisting these mining operations due to concerns about noise, high power consumption, and foreign ownership. However, a state law called Act 851 went into effect on August 1, preventing county and municipal “discrimination” against crypto mines.

These mining operations consist of warehouses or shipping containers filled with thousands of computer servers. The computers solve complex mathematical puzzles to verify blockchain transactions and create new bitcoins, with the miners keeping a portion of each bitcoin. Despite the concerns raised, the economic incentive of bitcoin’s high value continues to drive the growth of these mining facilities.

However, citizens in DeWitt are now fighting against plans for more bitcoin mining, with support from State Senator Bryan King and Arkansas Rice Growers Association Chair Kenneth Graves. A citizens group has recently voiced their opposition to digital asset mining in Arkansas County and is calling for a special legislative session to repeal Act 851.

The issue of crypto mining in the United States has gained attention recently, with concerns raised about the potential threats to critical systems. In neighboring Wyoming, Microsoft has expressed worries about crypto mining operations near their data center and an Air Force base controlling intercontinental ballistic missiles. State Senator Bryan King believes that crypto mining facilities pose a threat to critical U.S. systems, including computer networks and the electrical grid.

Chinese ownership of bitcoin mines has also been a significant concern. Plans for bitcoin sites in Harrison and Vilonia were halted due to worries over Chinese ownership, and Arkansas was named among the 12 states with Chinese-owned bitcoin mines. The potential environmental impact and strain on electricity and water resources have also raised concerns among local residents and farmers.

Arkansas has been attractive to these mining operations due to its inexpensive land, lack of zoning in unincorporated areas, and favorable power rates from Entergy Arkansas. Entergy offers a special tariff for miners, with a significantly lower energy charge compared to residential power rates. However, miners are still subject to demand charges and other fees.

The opposition to bitcoin mines in Arkansas unites conservative technology hawks, liberal environmentalists, and everyday citizens concerned about their tranquility and the impact on local businesses. The fight against these mining operations continues, with citizens calling for legislative action and voicing their concerns about the future of Arkansas as the “Bitcoin State.”

It remains to be seen how this debate will unfold and whether the concerns raised about digital asset mining will lead to any changes in legislation or regulations in Arkansas.

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