Donald Trump’s latest pro-crypto push includes courting Bitcoin miners at Mar-a-Lago

Donald Trump is on a mission to mine every dollar and vote out of the cryptocurrency industry he possibly can. His latest conquest? The actual miners.

The Republican presidential candidate took to Truth Social on Tuesday night—just hours after meeting with executives of publicly traded Bitcoin miners CleanSpark and Riot Platforms at an event at Mar-a-Lago—to post: “Bitcoin mining may be our last line of defense against a CBDC [central bank digital currency]. Biden’s hatred of Bitcoin only helps China, Russia, and the Radical Communist Left. We want all the remaining Bitcoin to be MADE IN THE USA!!! It will help us be ENERGY DOMINANT.”

In citing energy dominance, Trump’s attack on central bank digital currencies and support for crypto mining echoes responses often heard from the miners themselves when criticized for their outsize energy use: In times of extreme weather, miners actually could stabilize the grid by temporarily dialing down operations. Trump reportedly told Mar-a-Lago attendees that miners play a pivotal role in bolstering the grid’s energy supply, Matthew Schultz, executive chairman of CleanSpark, told Bloomberg.

Following Trump’s post, Thomas Chippas, CEO of publicly traded miner Argo Blockchain, told Fortune that it’s “remarkable to see the momentum behind crypto from both industry and regulators,” and that the mining industry has “the potential to strengthen its position further with political support.”

Bitcoin mining is a growing—albeit controversial—industry. The global crypto market was $1.92 billion in 2022, and it’s expected to reach around $7 billion by 2032. As of April, JPMorgan analysts tracked 14 publicly traded Bitcoin miners in the U.S. Over the past 12 months, shares of the two largest, Marathon Digital Holdings and CleanSpark, have soared 120% and 347%, respectively.

Since the Chinese Communist Party’s crypto ban in 2021, which overturned China’s role as the world’s biggest source of mining, miners have been scrambling to build data centers overseas. While mining hubs have popped up in Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and Paraguay, among other countries, the U.S. has cemented its role as the leader: Just three years since the ban, its share of global crypto mining operations grew from 3.5% to 38%. The U.S.’s ascent is largely thanks to ample agricultural land, investment, and access to cheap power.

Mining critics on both sides of the aisle

The mining facilities are predominantly located in rural regions in Republican states. In 2023, about half of the U.S. hashrate—the total computational power being used to mine Bitcoin—was mined in Southern states, including 28.5% in Texas alone, according to data from mining pool Foundry. Residents who live in proximity to the data centers, often built on agricultural land, have launched lawsuits and protests against the miners, citing excessive noise and the draining of power and water, such as in Arkansas and Texas.

At the federal level, President Joe Biden’s administration has launched a crackdown on crypto, citing national security risks and environmental concerns. In January, the Department of Energy and the Energy Information Administration ordered miners to submit data about their power usage, via an emergency Cryptocurrency Mining Facilities Survey. EIA Administrator Joseph DeCarolis had said mining “potentially disrupted the electric power industry” and thus the agency could request the data on an expedited basis. Crypto mining operations may now consume up to 2.3% of U.S. electricity, according to the EIA. “Public harm is reasonably likely if normal clearance procedures are followed,” he added. However, following a lawsuit, the agency was required to resubmit the survey without emergency status.

Then, in May, Biden gave a Chinese-owned Bitcoin miner in Wyoming 120 days to sell the land on which it operated, owing to possible spying concerns, the White House said in a statement. MineOne Partners runs the mine, which is less than a mile away from Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, which stores intercontinental nuclear missiles. “The presence of specialized and foreign-sourced equipment potentially capable of facilitating surveillance and espionage activities presents a national security risk,” the White House said.

Last October, the New York Times reported that the tip-off about the Wyoming facility had come from Microsoft, which operates a nearby data center supporting the Pentagon and cautioned that it could enable the Chinese to “pursue full-spectrum intelligence collection operations.”

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