Montana Coal Mine Becomes Crypto Mining Facility, but Not Everyone’s Happy

Montana environmentalists aren’t happy about a decommissioned coal mine going into business again, this time as a crypto mining facility.

Crypto Mining Rubs Climate Friendly People the Wrong Way

Known as the Hardin generating station, the facility is a 115-megawatt coal plant located near the site of the historic battle of Little BigHorn. It was slated to close in 2018 given the lack of customers, and usage has seriously died down as of late. However, it looks like a bitcoin mining enterprise thought it would be a great place for extracting crypto units.

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Anne Hedges – co-director of the Montana Environmental Information Center – expressed her disdain for the situation and said she and her constituents were eager to see the plant shut down permanently. She said:

We were just waiting for this thing to die. They were struggling and looking to close. It was on the brink, and then this cryptocurrency company came along.

The facility was sold in 2020 to the bitcoin mining company Marathon, which turned the building – which is currently situated on roughly 20 acres of land – into an established data center that now boasts more than 30,000 Antminers. Hardin has now edged back to life, and business is good.

However, environmentalists have taken notice, and have recently run studies on the carbon emissions that the plant is allegedly emitting. It is estimated that more than 187,000 tons of carbon dioxide was emitted by the company during the second quarter of 2021, while more than 5,000 percent was expelled in the second quarter of the previous year.

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Hedges explained:

I was horrified to see it all happen. It was a terrible turn of events. This isn’t helping old ladies from freezing to death. It’s to enrich a few people while destroying our climate for all of us. If you’re concerned about climate change, you should have nothing to do with cryptocurrency. It’s a disaster for the climate.

Many experts claim that bitcoin mining utilizes a heavy amount of energy that places the planet in dire straits. Benjamin Jones – a specialist in natural resource economics at the University of New Mexico – threw his two cents into the mix, claiming:

Coal and natural gas power plants used for crypto mining that would otherwise be sunsetting as we decarbonize adds yet more carbon to the atmosphere in an era when we should be cutting such emissions. Crypto’s continued or expanding use of fossil fuel-sourced electricity imposes significant environmental economic costs on society.

Maybe These Claims Aren’t Justified

By contrast, Fred Thiel – the chief executive of Marathon – says things like washing machines use more energy than bitcoin mining, and thus complaints from environmentalists are exaggerated. He says:

I understand the desire for some people to point [out] bitcoin mining as the big bad boy, but in a comparison with every other industry out there, it’s insignificant.

Tags: Anne Hedges, Crypto Mining, Montana

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