North Carolina’s Buncombe County is considering a 1-year moratorium on new and existing Bitcoin mining operations in the area.

The pause would give the county's Board of Commissioners time to “develop standards and mitigation methods for intensive land uses that may pose detrimental harm to the natural environment,” reads a county document first reported by local news outlet News 13 WSOL.

The board will discuss and finalize the issue in a public hearing on May 2, 2023.

Crypto mining refers to the process of verifying and validating transactions on a proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain. Bitcoin is the largest PoW blockchain, with Ethereum having just switched to a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain last September.


Buncombe County's board plans to classify cryptocurrency mining separately from data centers.

Until then, the moratorium will restrict zoning certification permits for cryptocurrency mining.

Previous reports indicate that Buncombe is taking a closer look into crypto mining in the county after the activity stirred controversy in neighboring Cherokee County, specifically over how loud these operations can be.

In response, Buncombe County Commissioner Terri Wells said at that time that “it’s just something I’d rather be proactive in looking at.”


Bitcoin mining around the world

In November 2022, New York's governor ratified a similar 2-year moratorium on new proof-of-work (PoW) Bitcoin mining operations.

Championed by New York assembly member Anna R. Kelles, the bill will pause "permits from being issued for two years to proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations that are operated through electric generating facilities that use a carbon-based fuel."

"As New York and Buncombe County look to halt digital asset mining, numerous other jurisdictions are welcoming the innovation, jobs, and revenue," the Digital Chamber of Commerce's VP of policy Cody Carbone told Decrypt. "I believe these efforts are shortsighted, but will not impact the growth of this industry long term."

China’s government reiterated its ban on Bitcoin mining operations in 2021, calling crypto-related businesses "illegal financial activities."

Since then, the U.S. has become the major hub for miners, with American firms accounting for 37.8% of the entire network’s hash rate today, per the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI).

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