Roughly 100 people answered the call from crypto advocacy groups Chamber of Digital Commerce, Satoshi Action Fund and Texas Blockchain Council to show Texas lawmakers they were against legislation targeting crypto mining firms.
Gathering at the Texas Capitol in Austin on April 25, crypto enthusiasts, state lawmakers, industry leaders and even a few members of the Capitol Police met to discuss the possible future of Bitcoin (BTC) mining in the Lone Star State should a bill known as SB 1751 move through the legislature. The proposed legislation would amend sections of Texas’ utilities and tax code to add restrictions for crypto mining companies.
The bill passed the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce as well as the full Texas Senate. As of April 24, the state’s House of Representatives had conducted a first reading of the legislation, whereupon it moved to the Committee on State Affairs.
Under the current version of SB 1751, crypto mining firms participating in a program intended to compensate them for load reductions on the state’s power grid through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas would have their incentives capped at 10%. In addition, certain companies operating data centers would also not receive an abatement on state taxes starting in September 2023.
“The fights about mining aren’t really about mining,” Perianne Boring, CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, said to Cointelegraph at the event. “It’s not really about environmental concerns. What it’s really about is controlling energy use.” She clarified:
“Bitcoin mining is a way for regulators to set a new precedent to say who is allowed to purchase energy, who is allowed to purchase power and how you are allowed to use it in a free society.”
‘Digital Freedom rally’ to oppose Senate Bill 1751 in Texas State Capitol #Bitcoin $BTC pic.twitter.com/lwAzAbSnY0— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) April 25, 2023
If passed, the bill could potentially threaten mining operations for many firms in Texas, a major player in the BTC hash rate following China’s crackdown. Riot Platforms and White Rock Management run mining rigs in Texas. However, Argo Blockchain sold its Texas facility to Galaxy Digital and Mawson Infrastructure Group announced plans to sell its Texas subsidiary to a Singapore-based fund manager.
Satoshi Action Fund CEO Dennis Porter said he had been monitoring the movement of the Texas bill and discussing its potential impact with local lawmakers. According to Porter, who advocates for pro-crypto legislation with policymakers across the United States, much of the pushback on mining is usually at the county level rather than state — one exception being New York’s proof-of-work mining moratorium passed in 2022.
“When you target one industry the way they are with this bill, that’s bad policy no matter what the industry you’re targeting,” Porter said to Cointelegraph. “It’s not a ban [like New York’s], but it is very much limiting the space and will hurt the growth of Bitcoin mining.”
Related: 'Don't Mess with Texas Innovation' — Advocates criticize bill removing crypto mining incentives
Porter added that even though SB 1751 hadn’t been signed into law, it could potentially discourage investors from coming into the state. He said he had seen many policymakers respond to crypto and blockchain based on complaints rather than the innovative aspects of the technology.
“You shouldn’t punish the whole industry because one bad actor comes in. [...] What we want to see is policy and regulations that acknowledge these bad actors and try to limit their ability to come into the space but doesn’t just kill the whole industry overnight.”
The Consensus 2023 conference will be taking place in Austin from April 26-28 featuring speakers from across the crypto and blockchain space. Cointelegraph staff will be in attendance.
Magazine: Crypto City: Guide to Austin