RI lawmaker reportedly uses cryptocurrency as part of ‘green housing’ scheme
PROVIDENCE — A Rhode Island lawmaker wants to use a type of cryptocurrency as part of plans for a “green housing” fund to address the state’s housing crisis and the climate crisis.
Environmental advocates have warned that bitcoin is harming the planet, requiring huge amounts of electricity and producing tons of carbon dioxide. But Rep. Carlos E. Tobon, a Democrat from Pawtucket, is proposing a bill that would provide owners with a “green coin,” a more environmentally friendly form of cryptocurrency.
Under his plan, government entities or the United Nations would provide credit for the construction of homes that depend on renewable energy sources such as solar or geothermal power. These credits would be transformed into “green coins” which could be used, for example, for environmentally friendly purchases such as charging an electric vehicle, or they could be pooled to finance other “housing green,” he said.
“I’m talking about an opportunity that could put Rhode Island at the forefront,” Tobon said Thursday. “It’s exciting, intriguing, maybe a bit scary. Everyone is always afraid of new and innovative ideas. But if we’re going to wait to start talking about crypto five years from now, we’re going to miss the boat.
He drew comparisons to inventors such as Thomas Edison, saying that at some point no one could imagine a day when we wouldn’t put oil in lamps. “Now nobody can imagine using crypto,” he said, “but it’s not going away.”
Tobon, who works in the insurance industry and is a reserve non-commissioned officer in the US Coast Guard, said he was unaware that cryptocurrency was being used in this way elsewhere. “It’s my idea, based on my research,” he said.
Tobon’s bill, titled “The Green Housing Public-Private Partnership Act,” would create a “green housing fund” within the Department of State Affairs Regulation, using up to $500 million private funding and $125 million in US federal funds.
He said the fund would be used to build badly needed housing in Rhode Island, which needs about 25,000 more homes.
And Tobon said building homes using renewable energy is crucial now that Rhode Island has enacted the Climate Act, which makes the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions mandatory and enforceable. greenhouse: 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, 80% below these levels. by 2040 and “net zero emissions” by 2050.
“This law is necessary to effectively use public and private funds in construction projects and would provide a method to incentivize owners and investors who build or buy properties built in accordance with the provisions of this chapter with cryptocurrency payments like credit to reduce utility expenses,” the legislation reads.
But why use “green coins” instead of greenbacks?
“Because money becomes like eight-track tapes,” Tobon said. “It’s going to be a thing of the past. How much money do you have in your wallet today? We are simply using an instrument that will be much smoother in the future than cash.
In return for investing public funds in the “green housing” fund, the state would be entitled to a 25% stake in any housing project resulting from the program and 25% of any revenue generated.
The Public Utilities Commission would publish an annual report on utility cost reductions resulting from meeting “green housing” standards. These cost reductions would be assigned “a credit amount” that is “eligible for redemption in the form of cryptocurrency in the form of a green coin to be issued by the department to the property owner,” the legislation says.
The bill, which was introduced on April 14, was referred to the House Finance Committee. No hearing has yet taken place and there is no related bill in the Senate.
But Sen. Louis P. DiPalma, a Middletown Democrat, said he applauds what Tobon is trying to do.
“We need to look at more things we can do as cryptocurrency and bitcoin continue to mature and become potentially ubiquitous,” DiPalma said. “It’s clearly one of those things that legislation will never get ahead of because it will always be ahead of us, like cybersecurity.”