It’s a well-worn idea that bitcoin is helping to trash the planet, throwing fuel on an already burning world while providing value to very few people. By one recent estimate, the energy used to keep the network going, a process known as mining, is enough to power Hungary. But now a Montana county in the heart of crypto-mining territory is taking matters into its own hands, invoking a local climate emergency in a bid to make bitcoin greener.
Missoula County’s strategy rests in the powerful, often-invisible realm of local zoning enforcement. A resolution approved unanimously by county commissioners Thursday, requires new cryptocurrency mining operations to offset their energy use by funding or building new renewable projects. It comes in advance of a resolution that would commit the Missoula area to 100 percent clean electricity by 2030.