Privacy Policy After hearing about two hours of presentations and public comments on the Bitcoin mining operations in Bonner, the Missoula County Commission on Thursday postponed making a decision on a proposed one-year ban on new or expanded cryptocurrency activity until August. The public comments were split fairly evenly in support and in opposition to the potential interim emergency zoning regulations the county is considering.

Some 75 people crowded into a conference room in Missoula’s courthouse annex to offer opinions on the proposal. But at the end of the hearing, Commissioner Jean Curtiss noted that she feels that “we all understand that we don’t understand.” “We don’t know all the impacts in the future or the long game,” Curtiss said.

Commissioner Cola Rowley added that it might be good to have more time for “education and outreach” before moving forward on the one-year moratorium. “This has been fascinating and I heard a lot of new information,” Rowley said.

Bitcoins are the most popular of about 1,200 types of cryptocurrency, which is an intangible digital asset with a value that varies from day to day, or even minute by minute. The cryptocurrency is “mined” by high-powered computers solving complicated mathematical problems, and when successful the currency is put on a public transaction ledger called a blockchain.

The system is set up so that a cryptographic puzzle is solved and new transactions are added to the blockchain about every 10 minutes, according to Diana Maneta, the Missoula County energy conservation and sustainability coordinator. As more miners join the system, the puzzles become increasingly difficult and require more computing power — and more electricity — to solve. Read more from…

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