LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The high-tech phenomena of crypto-mining is spreading throughout the Natural State, and a recent proposal for a new facility near DeWitt, Arkansas, has locals up in arms.
Tuesday morning, the Arkansas County Quorum Court passed an amendment to make a noise ordinance aimed at crypto mines stricter.
There is a lot of spirit in DeWitt and Arkansas County as a whole, and the potential threats posed by a new crypto mine have brought local outcry to a fever pitch.
“This affects every single Arkansan in the state of Arkansas. We will no longer be the Natural State; we will be the Bitcoin State,” said DeWitt business owner Jackie Johnson. “And this is one of the only states that did not have Bitcoin mining. It’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders and our legislature welcomed them [with] open arms. It’s something else too, bitcoin miners are not little mom and pop businesses, they are big conglomerates that don’t even live in the United States.
When it was announced in July that the company Jones Digital planned on constructing a crypto mine next to DeWitt, locals became worried, having heard of crypto mine issues other towns around the state are already facing.
Concerns range from power grid and water usage to environmental threats, hunting and agriculture being essential to the local economy.
“I’m here representing the farmers here concerning electricity and water. Two vital things that farmers need to survive and make a living. We don’t want anything to jeopardize those in any way,” said Kenneth Graves, chairman of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association.
Arkansas’ government opened the door for crypto-mining businesses in the state with the recently signed into law Act 851, which severely limits the local government’s ability to regulate crypto mines.
“The rest of the businesses and farmers that are in the area…we have to abide by regulations, we’re regulated, we’re taxed—and this business is not. They’re exempt from sales and use tax, and they’re getting a cut-rate from Entergy because of the amount they use,” said Tami Hornbeck, who owns a coffee shop in DeWitt.
“It just seems like our rights are being discriminated against and taken away in order for this one business to come in that’s not going to provide jobs, it’s not going to provide any economic benefit for our community,” Hornbeck said.
Hornbeck and others have started a petition to prevent crypto mines from coming to Arkansas County—after only two weeks, nearly half the town of DeWitt signed it.
With locals scrambling to find ways to keep out crypto mines, on Tuesday the county’s Quorum Court made a noise ordinance (existing before Act 851 went into effect) stricter with an amendment, taking a stand with what may be seen as a violation of the new law.
“This is a gray area. And I do think there is a chance we will end up in court over this,” said Tim Blair, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas County.
DeWitt and other communities around the state facing unwanted crypto mines are asking for the governor to call a special session to re-evaluate Act 851.