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DeWitt Bitcoin Mine Gets Court Victory as Judge Strikes Noise Ordinance

3 min read

Jones Digital LLC, the digital asset mining company building a controversial facility outside DeWitt, won a federal judge’s ruling that halts Arkansas County from enforcing a noise limit approved last month that was stricter than decibel restrictions the county imposed in July.

U.S. District Judge Lee P. Rudofsky granted Jones Digital a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the new noise ordinance, which the Arkansas County Quorum Court passed on Oct. 10.

Jones’ lawyers argued that the October ordinance sought to impose discriminatory decibel limits and notification inquiries on Jones Digital despite Act 851 of 2023, which outlawed “discrimination” against data centers and bitcoin miners. Digital currency mines and plans for them have spurred protests by their neighbors in several counties, and Act 851 set off a race for municipalities and counties to impose noise limits before the law took effect Aug. 1.

Rudofsky granted Jones Digital’s motion to enjoin enforcement after a Nov. 17 hearing that stretched into the evening. In a formal ruling Monday, the judge noted that Jones Digital was willing to abide by the July ordinance, and found that the October ordinance ran afoul of the new state law. The ruling bars Arkansas County, its county judge, sheriff and prosecutor “and all acting in concert with them” from enforcing the noise limit.

Alex Jones of Wright Lindsey & Jennings of Little Rock represented Jones.

“Our client hoped to avoid litigation, but the October ordinance really gave our client no choice,” Jones said in a news release. “We are gratified that Judge Rudofsky gave this issue such a rigorous analysis and ruled decisively in Jones Digital’s favor.”

The hearing involved extensive evidence from Jones Digital and its opponents about noise expected to come from the facility. Cryptocurrency mines commonly use electric fans to cool thousands of computer modules that perform complex calculations to generate bitcoins.

Jones Digital is tied to Bono Management Inc., a company led by Yizheng Ethan Wang and Li Li, the same individuals listed as incorporator/organizer and director of a bitcoin mine near Greenbrier that has drawn criticism for its noise.

Many Arkansans have also expressed concern about heavy power use and Chinese ownership of facilities drawing large amounts of energy from the electric grid.

But two expert witnesses who testified in the Oct. 17 hearing said sound levels from the DeWitt facility would pose no harm to humans and would not be near as loud as the decibel levels existing commercial enterprises are generating in Arkansas County.

And according to Jones, the hearing dispelled rumors that the crypto mine would pollute waters and hurt the region’s duck-hunting industry.

“Many rumors had circulated about our client’s project: claims that it would discharge pollutants into Arkansas County streams and waterways, as well as claims that it would generate loud noise that could damage hearing and drive off waterfowl,” he said.

The judge gave the county a chance to present evidence of potential pollution and harm to humans, but the court found no proof of harmful environmental or health effects.

“The hearing revealed that the project has a closed water system that will discharge nothing into the watershed,” the attorney said. “Even at peak operation, any noise would be far below anything that could damage hearing. In fact, it will generate far less noise than other ongoing commercial operations in the county, like Delta Plastics and Riceland Foods, or even routine highway traffic from Highway 165. And the Judge found that there was no evidence offered to indicate that any noise from the project would adversely affect waterfowl.”

Arkansas County Judge James Best was out of the office Tuesday morning, and repeated attempts to reach him by cellphone failed. Sheriff Johnny Cheek was also out of the office on Tuesday and didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

“Jones Digital is sad that this had to be addressed in litigation, but it is gratified that, when Judge Rudofsky evaluated all the evidence, he concluded that there really was no support for the county’s stated concerns,” Jones said. “He therefore struck down the October ordinance and cleared the way for Jones Digital to begin operations.”

He said the company looks forward to working with residents of Arkansas County and leaving the issue behind. “Our client has pledged to be a responsible neighbor, a timely taxpayer, and a business that will give back to DeWitt and other communities in Arkansas County,” Alex Jones said.

DeWitt Bitcoin Mine Gets Court Victory as Judge Strikes Noise Ordinance

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