In states like Texas, where energy regulations are laxer, natural gas by-product can be vented, intentionally releasing gases, predominately potent methane, into the atmosphere. The other option is to set gas on fire in flare stacks to convert methane to carbon dioxide, slightly less dangerous when it comes to heating the planet in the short-term. [...]
"They're getting zero for this gas anyway so it makes almost no difference whether we're on that well-site or not," he said. [...] "We've had publicly-traded companies reach out to us and say, 'We don't even care if we lose money on this. We want to improve our public opinion." [...]
Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist which examines consequences of new technologies, and a data scientist focusing on financial economic crime for De Nederlandsche Bank, called the oil well-bitcoin mining rig set-up "absurd".
"It's mind-blowing the suggestion that it is somehow helping the environment to use a by-product of fossil fuel extraction for bitcoin mining," he told The Independent.
"We don't have a climate change problem because fossil fuel companies are not efficient enough. And if you make the operation more efficient, you are not helping the environment anyway. Intuitively it just doesn't make sense.
"Firstly, it's adding to the bottom line of fossil fuel extraction and secondly, it's still burning fossil fuels. We want to accelerate away from fossil fuels. We don't want to make fossil fuels more profitable. I can't wrap my head around it."
Their argument is, "Bitcoin is 'green' because this oil well was just going to vent all that methane into the atmosphere anyway" -- or -- "It was on fire when I got here."