USK, Washington – The former Ponderay Newsprint Company is now home to thousands of cryptocurrency mines.
Merkle Standard says he wants to make money for the region and bring back jobs in the industry by using Washington’s hydroelectric power.
The once booming paper mill turned the lights back on in January.
“Specifically this year, for the first two months of January and February 2022, we paid over $292,000 in taxes that will go directly to Pend Oreille County,” said Monty Stahl, chief operating officer.
The machine that converted pulp into paper provided many jobs for Usk, such as former engineer and now chief executive Todd Behrend.
Next to it are more than 2,000 cryptocurrency mines. They are small, but a more powerful processor than you would find on your computer.
These contain the equivalent of a digital ledger and algorithms.
“This algorithm then determines which coin you mine and directs it to this communication with the internet to a wallet,” Behrend said.
The two cryptocurrencies mined from the facility are Bitcoin and Ethereum. The machines generate income, but also release energy which, according to Merkle Standard, will be used to heat the building.
While Stahl says Merkle Standard promises a neutral carbon footprint by the end of the year, neighbors in the region are worried about the heat and environmental impacts that could be generated by all the energy.
the Natural Resources Defense Council says the crypto boom poses a big problem given the world’s tight timeline to achieve net-zero emissions.
Crypto has a massive carbon footprint that stems from the extreme computing power needed to perform the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies.
A petition launched by neighbors calls for a study to be carried out to examine the impact of Merkle Standard’s activities on the environment.
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