Lee Bratcher is the President of the Texas Blockchain Council. In this interview, we discuss Bitcoin mining in Texas, the North American Blockchain Summit 2023 and the regulatory challenges miners face. We also talk about the potential impact of politicians embracing Bitcoin, the importance of mainstream media presence at the upcoming conference, and efforts to attract professionals to Bitcoin events.
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This podcast was made before the start of the Texas Bitcoin Summit in Fort Worth, which started yesterday and runs through until Friday. The summit is expected to be the biggest one yet, with over a thousand attendees and a focus on mining. And this year the Texas Blockchain Council has excelled at attracting some major political figures, including RFK, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ted Cruz, Cynthia Lummis, Andrew Yang and Warren Davidson.
Texas seems to understand Bitcoin better than other states, which is attributable in part to the independent thinking and educational efforts in the state. The Texas Bitcoin mining industry is a catalyst for Bitcoin mining across the world, leading the way in developing use cases such as demand response grid balancing services and the incentivisation for the build-out of renewable energy.
However, the path to wider acceptance of mining in Texas has not been foregone, and the future is still uncertain. The challenges the industry has faced have been significant. For example, Senate Bill 1751 in Texas sought to ban miners from the very same ancillary services that have benefitted ERCOT’s grid balancing objectives. These efforts have been pushed by traditional legacy industries in Texas aided by their strategy of regulatory capture.
Traditional industries such as steel mills and petrochemical refineries have been frustrated by Bitcoin miners bidding down the price for demand response services (which in turn has benefits consumers). The bill passed unanimously in the Senate. The fact the bill was ultimately killed in the House was thanks in large part to the efforts of the Texas Blockchain Council under Lee Bratcher’s presidency.
The issue highlights the problem of getting a political consensus on Bitcoin. Elizabeth Warren, for one, makes it difficult for Democrats to openly support Bitcoin. However, a few Democrats are showing a more practical and nuanced understanding. And, being anti-Bitcoin will become a risky position to take in the future due to generational-led shifts in opinions. Until then, it’s up to bodies like the Texas Blockchain Council to continue to fight for Bitcoin.