Noisy Bitcoin Mines Are Sparking Controversy Across the Nation

It's led to clashes within state governments and the crypto industry

Bitcoin mine
As the saying goes, what's bitcoin yours is bitcoin mine.
Meiramgul Kussainova/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What does it take to mine Bitcoin or another high-profile type of cryptocurrency? The right infrastructure can make a big difference. As Iulia Vasile wrote in a guide at the crypto news site Be In Crypto, “Without access to affordable electricity, running a mining rig will cost more than the value of the cryptocurrency it mines.” Looking at images of large-scale Bitcoin mines reveals legions of processors running — as well as a sizable amount of cooling technology in place to keep them from overheating.

Once that reaches a certain scale, it becomes akin to almost any other industrial process: loud, steady and unceasing. And if you happen to live near one, the effects can be unsettling. One North Carolina resident told CNN that the noise from such a mine was akin to “a small jet that never leaves.” A similar metaphor was used by a Texas resident, who told Time that proximity to a mine was “like sitting on the runway of an airport where jets are taking off, one after another.”

The sonic effects of crypto mining has prompted some legal disputes as well, with conflicts of that type in Arkansas drawing a significant amount of press coverage. That seems to be due in part to a state law passed in 2023. As part of the law, Little Rock Public Radio reported, local governments were barred from any regulations that “[discriminated] against digital asset mining business.”

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As Gabriel J.X. Dance reported for The New York Times, the passage of that law and the growth of crypto mining facilities has led to some clashes within the state government and within the industry as a whole. Arry Yu of the U.S. Blockchain Coalition told the Times of the importance of “[taking] a humble approach, work with the communities, don’t hijack their journeys and their lives” — and criticized the situation on the ground in Arkansas.

Still, that situation might soon spread. The Times reports that a bill similar to the one that passed in Arkansas also passed in Montana, with other states considering similar legislation.

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