Peterson: Mississippi Should Embrace Bitcoin Mining

Below is an opinion column by Eric Peterson:

Magnolia State can boost its economy and even solve an environmental problem.

An indistinct warehouse in Jackson doesn’t appear to be part of a growing new technology industry in Mississippi, but it does contain specialized computers that are creating jobs and opportunities across the state.

The 300,000-square-foot warehouse is stacked with hundreds of computers and the associated electrical infrastructure to ensure they can work around the clock for a booming Mississippi industry — bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin mining, which uses computers and large amounts of electricity to log Bitcoin transactions and secure the Bitcoin network, has greatly expanded its presence in America over the past two years. This increase is mainly due to China banning the technology as they push ahead with launching their own digital currency.

Today, nearly 30 percent of all bitcoin mining takes place in America, with states like Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky leading the way.

But as the industry continues to look for new places to expand, states like Mississippi are primed to take advantage.

Mississippi has many of the key components necessary to attract bitcoin miners, as well as the jobs they create and the taxpayers’ money they give to the state. Bitcoin miners are looking for big spaces to house their computers and, most importantly, cheap electricity to keep them running. This makes the many abandoned industrial facilities across Mississippi prime targets for bitcoin miners.

The Mississippi Senate Treasury Committee recently heard two bills that would further encourage the bitcoin industry to move and expand its operations in the state, SB 2603 and SB 2435 – both by Senator Josh Harkins.

The first bill would do a variety of virtual currency housecleaning tasks in the state and provide important safeguards for the bitcoin mining industry. For example, it would protect the right of bitcoin miners to operate industrial-scale mining operations in areas designated for industrial use.

Bitcoin miners are constantly concerned about governments shutting down or scrutinizing their business model. These concerns were most notably expressed in New York, when they recently passed a two-year moratorium on all bitcoin mining that is not 100 percent renewable.

Local governments have also tried to shut down their business model, as seen recently in Murphy, North Carolina, where the county board got involved in the issue.

The legislation would also create a Bitcoin Mining Council to study the Mississippi industry and provide a long-overdue virtual currency definition in Mississippi law.

House Representative Jody Steverson’s House Bill 848, which has the same text as SB 2603, passed the committee on Jan. 25th and is currently located on the floor of the house.

Meanwhile, SB 2435 is trying to use the oil and natural gas rich areas of Mississippi to mine bitcoin in a way that creates jobs and cleans up the environment. Specifically, the legislation would allow bitcoin miners to use the methane currently leaking from idle oil and gas wells to mine bitcoin. In exchange, the bitcoin miner would be responsible for sealing the abandoned wells upon completion of their project, an obligation that currently costs Mississippi taxpayers $50,000 to $100,000 per well. This legislation creates a win-win-win scenario for Mississippi taxpayers, the environment, and Bitcoin miners.

Mississippi is experiencing an explosion of new business investment thanks to pro-growth tax and regulatory policies. By applying the same principles to the bitcoin mining industry, it can boost its economy and even solve an environmental problem.

— Article credit to Eric Peterson, for the Magnolia Tribune —

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