The 88th session of the Texas Legislature has passed a series of bills set to influence the state’s bitcoin mining industry.
In the recent 88th legislative session, Texas lawmakers have made strides in legislation impacting local bitcoin miners. Several bills have passed which are set to make the state increasingly appealing to the crypto-mining industry.
Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council, envisions Texas becoming a major hub for digital assets, comparing it to the evolution of Silicon Valley as a global tech innovation center.
Impact of bills on the bitcoin mining landscape
One of the most notable outcomes was the shelving of Senate Bill (SB) 1751, which had been tagged by industry insiders as an “anti-mining” bill. The bill proposed to restrain the profitable energy credits currently benefitting local miners.
Among those reaping the rewards of these credits was Riot Blockchain, which earned $9.5 million in credits in a single month last year.
In contrast, the passing of Senate Bill 1929 has been viewed favorably by bitcoin miners. This bill mandates large-scale bitcoin mines to register with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), enhancing the transparency in the industry.
Bratcher expressed strong support for this bill, asserting that it would bolster communication between ERCOT and bitcoin miners.
The passage of House Bills HB 591 and HB 1666 are expected to be additional boons for the crypto mining sector. These bills have passed both House and Senate voting, and are now awaiting the signature of Texas governor Abbott.
HB 591 provides tax incentives for the use of flared gas in on-site bitcoin mining, transforming an otherwise wasted energy resource into a potential mining asset. However, this has stirred controversy, as critics argue that it promotes more fossil fuel consumption.
Meanwhile, HB 1666 implements a proof-of-reserves system, necessitating crypto exchanges to possess assets “adequate to meet all obligations to customers.”
Criticism surrounding the legislative developments
While the legislative actions have been mostly hailed as positive for the local bitcoin mining sector, there have been voices of criticism.
Adrian Shelley, Texas director of Public Citizen, a non-profit advocacy group, has expressed concern over these developments.
Shelley perceives these legislative changes as providing a fresh value stream to an industry that was gradually being priced out, while questioning the real value this sector brings to the state.