Montana Senate Passes Bill Protecting Crypto Miners

The legislation will likely upend a Missoula county zoning law that was one of the first in the U.S. to target the mining industry.

AccessTimeIconFeb 23, 2023 at 10:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 28, 2023 at 12:54 p.m. UTC
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The Montana State Senate passed a bill on Thursday protecting crypto miners from a range of possible actions against the industry.

The proposed law passed 37-13 in the Senate and next will go the state's House for its approval. The bill protects at-home mining, prevents discriminatory utility rates for miners and stipulates that crypto used as payment will not be subject to additional taxes.

The legislation also takes power from local governments, preventing them from moving against at-home mining or retroactively using zoning laws to shut down active operations. "These protections, along with clarifying tax law in relation to digital assets when used as payment, will plant a flag in Montana that sends a message that we are open to embracing the digital asset mining industry," Montana Senator Daniel Zolnikov (R) told CoinDesk.

The new law might possibly upend a 2020 Missoula County zoning ordinance that required all bitcoin miners to buy or build renewable energy assets equivalent to their energy consumption.

"Missoula County has no position on this bill, and we're not concerned it will affect our regulations," said a representative for the county.

Bitcoin miners have been targeted by environmentalists and U.S. lawmakers for their potential impacts on carbon neutrality goals as well as electrical grids. In the past few months, bitcoin miners have been fighting back; as many as five bills are going through state legislatures to protect the industry.

Bitcoin advocacy group Satoshi Action Fund helped draft the language in the bill. "There is still more work to be done in Montana, but as a new organization we feel confident about the progress we have made," said Dennis Porter, CEO and co-founder of Satoshi Action Fund.

UPDATE (Feb. 24, 09:25 UTC): Adds comments from Senator Zolnikov, Missoula county and Porter.


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Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza Gkritsi was CoinDesk's AI/crypto reporter.

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