Cryptocurrency mining has become a topic of discussion and controversy in Greenville, particularly in relation to the Compute North project. The Greenville Utilities board held closed-door meetings throughout 2021 to discuss economic development issues, including a $50,000 incentive for the cryptocurrency mining operation.
The discussions followed appropriate procedures, but a board member, Ferrell Blount, recused himself due to a conflict of interest. Compute North initially planned to build a data processing site in Pitt County, but faced opposition when applying for a special-use permit near Belvoir Elementary School.
The Greenville City Council later approved a zoning amendment allowing companies like Compute North to operate in the city. There were rumors of a potential facility location on property owned by board member Ferrell Blount, but Compute North eventually halted its project due to economic uncertainties and filed for bankruptcy. The community expressed concerns about the Compute North project, particularly regarding energy consumption and noise generated by cooling systems.
These concerns led to opposition and calls for a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining facilities. The impact of cryptocurrency mining on the environment and local communities has raised significant environmental justice concerns. Mining operations require a substantial amount of electricity, straining local power resources and contributing to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Local communities near mining operations often experience disruptions to their daily lives, including increased noise, traffic, and environmental pollution. Additionally, mining operations can strain local resources, such as water, which may already be in short supply in certain areas.
Addressing these environmental justice concerns requires a comprehensive approach. Governments can play a pivotal role by implementing regulations to reduce the carbon footprint of cryptocurrency mining and ensuring adherence to environmental standards . Transparency from mining operations regarding their energy sources and practices is essential.
Community involvement should be encouraged to give affected communities a voice in the process and mitigate negative impacts. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources for mining operations can help alleviate environmental issues.
The discussions and controversies surrounding the Compute North project in Greenville highlight the environmental and social concerns associated with cryptocurrency mining. It is crucial for governments, mining operations, and communities to work together to address these concerns and find a balance between the potential benefits of blockchain technology and the protection of the environment and local communities.
Call Lisa Tyson with NOTRA (252) 327-1818 for more info on this advocacy effort.
Writer, G.L. (2022) GUC leader, board minutes reveal dealings with crypto miner, Reflector. https://www.reflector.com/news/local/guc-leader-board-minutes-reveal-dealings-with-crypto-miner/article_6d2da301-fcfe-59b4-8a0c-79013a15dbc7.html.
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Mnif, M., Alqahtani, F., & Alqahtani, A. (2021). Environmental impact of cryptocurrencies: A systematic review. Sustainable Business Review, 3(1), 1-16. doi:10.1108/SBR-02-2021-0016