Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick took time out of a busy Saturday working outdoors on his agricultural property to speak to KGVO News about new environmental policies adopted by the County and the effects on Hyperblock, the data mining business in Bonner.

The new policy that was adopted last Wednesday, that committed both the city and the county to producing electricity exclusively by renewable resources by the year 2030, has caused great concern to businesses like Hyperblock, that use massive amounts of energy.

“That’s a heavy lift, a steep goal,” said Slotnick. “Given that that’s the new landscape, we need to start orienting policy in that direction. We did that on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we adopted interim zoning to make sure that when new crypto currency come to Missoula County that they use new renewable energy as a way to offset the impact that they cause because they’re such big energy users.”

Slotnick said even though Hyperblock has done everything it can to mitigate the noise that emanates from the Bonner location, he pointed out the sheer volume of energy utilized.

“I applaud how good they’ve been as corporate citizens, but I also think it’s worthy of note for people to have a clear understanding of how much energy we’re talking about,” he said. “Right now, they employ 19 people and they use an amount of energy that’s equivalent to one third of all the households in Missoula County. They’re doing great by using renewable energy, but expansion doesn’t necessarily mean they will. More importantly, new entities, and we’ve heard that there are new ones kind of sniffing around, don’t have to either, and we’re in a position now where we just can’t abide that.”

Slotnick said there is also concern about what data mining businesses are doing with what is called e-waste.

“E-waste is computer gear that has finished out its usable life and has to be thrown away,” he said. “It’s a different type of waste in that there are specific chemicals and metals in there that are damaging, and there are also materials that can be recycled and reused when making the same type of equipment, and these types of outfits burn through a lot of computer hardware very quickly and generate a lot of e-waste.”

The effects of the new environmental policies adopted by the city and the county are just beginning to be felt, but officials from both entities say they are committed to achieving the goal of producing electricity exclusively by renewable resources by the year 2030.

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