Below is an opinion column by Eric Peterson:
The Magnolia State can grow its economy and even solve an environmental problem to boot.
An indistinct warehouse in Jackson doesn’t seem like it could be part of a growing new technology industry in Mississippi, but inside are specialized computers that are creating jobs and opportunity across the state.
The 300,000 square foot warehouse is stacked with hundreds of computers and the appropriate electrical infrastructure to make sure they can be working 24/7 for a booming industry in Mississippi – Bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin mining, which uses computers and large amounts of electricity to log Bitcoin transactions and secure the Bitcoin network, has increased its footprint extensively in America over the past two years. This increase is mostly due to China banning the technology as they push the adoption of 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 benefit.
Mississippi has many of the major components necessary to attract Bitcoin miners, as well as the jobs they create and the tax dollars they contribute to the state. Bitcoin miners are looking for large spaces to house their computers and, most importantly, cheap power to keep them running. This makes the many abandoned industrial facilities across Mississippi prime targets for Bitcoin miners.
The Mississippi Senate Finance Committee recently heard two pieces of legislation that would further incentivize the Bitcoin industry to move and expand their operations in the state, SB 2603 and SB 2435 — both by Senator Josh Harkins.
The first piece of legislation would accomplish a variety of house cleaning tasks for virtual currency in the state and provide important protections for the Bitcoin mining industry. For example, it would protect the right for Bitcoin miners to run industrial size mining operations in areas zoned for industrial use.
Bitcoin miners are constantly concerned about governments shutting down or putting extra scrutiny on their business model. These concerns manifested most notably in New York as they recently passed a two-year moratorium on all Bitcoin mining that doesn’t use 100 percent renewable energy.
Local governments have also tried to shut down their business model as recently seen in Murphy, North Carolina where the county board has gotten involved in the issue.
The legislation would also create a Bitcoin mining council to study the industry in Mississippi and provide a long overdue definition of virtual currency in Mississippi law.
House Bill 848 by State Representative Jody Steverson, which has the same text as SB 2603, passed out of committee on January 25th and is currently on the House floor.
Meanwhile, SB 2435 seeks to take advantage of the areas in Mississippi which are rich in oil and natural gas 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 that is currently leaking from abandoned oil and gas wells to mine Bitcoin. In return, the Bitcoin miner would be responsible to seal the abandoned wells after they were finished with their project, an obligation currently costing 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 currently seeing an explosion in new business investment thanks to its pro-growth tax and regulation policies. By applying these same principles to the Bitcoin mining industry, it can grow its economy and even solve an environmental problem to boot.
— Article credit to Eric Peterson, for the Magnolia Tribune —