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Arkansas officials say crypto mining impacts quality of life

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(The Center Square) – Crypto mining facilities are impacting the quality of life for Arkansans who live near them, lawmakers on the joint Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor heard Thursday.

Main concerns are noise pollution and potential depletion of local water systems, according to an interim study discussed by the committee.

One crypto mining facility in Faulkner County has presented difficulties for residents, according to Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson.

“I don’t know if any of you have been around one of these fully operational crypto mines but they are really noisy. I’ve described them as a jet airliner idle on the tarmac,” said Dodson.

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, who introduced the interim study proposal, said when legislation was first passed concerning crypto mines, a lot of lawmakers did not have a complete picture of the industry.

‘“I understand there are some operations that are seamless and you’d never know that they are there. But there are others like this one that have become a real problem for the county, a real problem for the citizens that are near it, and I want to know more about this because at the time when we cast our votes on the legislation that passed, I did not have all of the information and really didn’t know what would happen,” said Irvin.

Faulkner County Attorney Phillip Murphy told the committee there are several types of pollution they are worried about.

“This is more than just sound, this is also an issue of water, the tremendous amounts of water, not only that they are using but where does that water go and how does that seep into the water that’s being used by the farmers and the agricultural community? How is that water being used by people that have wells? We don’t know those answers,” said Murphy.

Dodson said a solution would be to have the state of Arkansas establish “norms and science that are defensible.”

“I’d rather the decision be back on you,” said Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forrest. “The legislature making it, as we see with this, we can’t change anything for two years if you put something into law and we don’t know what’s going to happen. You guys meet monthly. It’s better just to let local governments on this thing, you guys, to decide what you want.”

Irvin said she felt it was important to do a cost-benefit analysis on the economic impact of crypto mining facilities.

“From anything I can see, we are not gaining anything from this but a lot of headache, and it’s actually deterring further and future economic development,” said Irvin.

The subcommittee on labor and environment is expected to come back to the full committee with recommendations on whether the legislature should take action or if standards should be left to individual counties.

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