On Thursday, April 15, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed House Bill 189 into law, which exempts the use of natural gas flares for activities such as bitcoin mining from taxation.
Mining cryptocurrency is a very energy-intensive operation. To validate bitcoin transactions, miners use a collection of extremely powerful computers to solve random “problems.” Miners have compensated cryptocurrency after sending their verifications to the network pool.
In 2020, three Casper entrepreneurs founded “Highwire Energy Partners,” a company that mines bitcoin using Wyoming’s excess of natural gas. The idea behind Highwire is to connect directly into flared natural gas or wells that are about to be shut down. Highwire does this by transporting 1414-square-foot bespoke huts right to the well and powering them with a field generator powered by the well’s natural gas.
House Bill 189, according to Gordon’s office, “allows oil companies to use natural gas that would otherwise be vented into the environment for other profitable applications, such as cryptocurrency mining.”
The new law states that “natural gas consumed on-site that would otherwise be vented or flared under the authority of the Wyoming Oil and gas conservation commission has no value and is exempt from taxation as long as the natural gas is certified by the Wyoming oil and gas conservation commission as having originated from a qualifying well.”
The Wyoming House of Representatives initially passed the bill on a third reading vote of 31-28 on March 24:
Ayes: BANKS, BROWN, CLAUSEN, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRAGO, EYRE, FLITNER, HALLINAN, HARSHMAN, HENDERSON, HUNT, KINNER, BARLOW, MACGUIRE, MARTINEZ, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, SOMMERS, STITH, WESTERN, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
Nays: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BURKHART, BURT, DUNCAN, EKLUND, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HAROLDSON, HEINER, JENNINGS, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OLSEN, OTTMAN, SIMPSON, STYVAR, WALTERS, WASHUT, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WINTER
The Senate then passed the bill on a third reading vote of 26-2 on April 2:
Ayes: ANDERSON, BALDWIN, BITEMAN, COOPER, DOCKSTADER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, FRENCH, FURPHY, GIERAU, HICKS, HUTCHINGS, JAMES, KINSKEY, KOLB, KOST, LANDEN, MCKEOWN, NETHERCOTT, PAPPAS, PERKINS, ROTHFUSS, SALAZAR, SCOTT, STEINMETZ, WASSERBURGER
Nays: BOUCHARD, CASE
Excused: BONER, SCHULER
Because the Senate adopted an amendment to the legislation, the bill returned to the House for a concurrence vote which passed 36-20 on April 6:
Ayes: BANKS, BROWN, BURKHART, CLAUSEN, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRAGO, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, HALLINAN, HARSHMAN, HENDERSON, HUNT, KINNER, BARLOW, LARSEN, L, MACGUIRE, MARTINEZ, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, OLSEN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, SOMMERS, STITH, WESTERN, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
Nays: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, DUNCAN, FORTNER, GRAY, HAROLDSON, HEINER, JENNINGS, KNAPP, LAURSEN, D, NEIMAN, OTTMAN, SIMPSON, STYVAR, WALTERS, WASHUT, WHARFF, WINTER
Excused: BURT, GREEAR, WILLIAMS
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