Elon Musk Says He Still ‘Strongly Believes’ in Crypto, but Backs Away from Bitcoin

The billionaire cryptocurrency booster has suddenly realized Bitcoin transactions are bad for the environment

Elon Musk, the longtime hero of cryptocurrency fans everywhere, let down his army of cryptomaniacs for the second time in less than a week Wednesday when the Tesla boss announced that his electric car company will stop accepting Bitcoin payments, the Washington Post reports.

On Thursday, clarified on Twitter that he still “strongly” believes in crypto, but says “it can’t drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal.”

Still, Musk will apparently be reversing his much-hyped decision in March to take Bitcoin in exchange for actual vehicles. He didn’t cite concerns over the questionable intrinsic value of the quasi-tender, but said the supercomputer processes that go into “mining” Bitcoin are currently too damaging to the environment.

“We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk tweeted. “Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy. We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of Bitcoin’s energy/transaction.”

The news quickly sent Bitcoin’s value into a spiral. Before Musk’s Wednesday announcement, the cryptocash was trading at $54,600 per coin. Within two hours it had sunk to $46,980, before bumping up slightly to around $50,000 by the end of the day.

Although Musk had previously given Bitcoin a shot in the arm when he announced in February that Tesla was investing $1.5 billion in the company, his social media antics have proven to be a mixed blessing for computer currencies. (As one Twitter user quipped, “If you want to have the value of your currency tied to the fickle opinions of an already rich CEO and a twitter+reddit mob, try Bitcoin!”)

Last week, the self-anointed “Dogefather” had Dogecoin speculators hoping his stint hosting Saturday Night Live would boost that cryptocurrency because he all but promised to namedrop it on the air. Indeed he did, but he also called it a “hustle” during “Weekend Update” and the per-coin value fell 20 percent from $0.65 to $0.51 by the time the show was over.

And yet Musk continues his cheeky ways. The day before he let it drop that Bitcoin money was no good around Telsa, he asked his Twitter followers if Tesla should start accepting Dogecoin. Of the 3.9 million users who voted, 78.2 percent said yes.

Still it’s strange that one of the world’s foremost crypto proponents would take so long to realize that such money poses a potential natural disaster.

But perhaps Musk caught the episode of Real Time the week before his SNL debut, when host Bill Maher compared cryptocurrency to “the old game of ‘I’m thinking of a number between one and ten,’ except times a gazillion, and the guy guessing the number lives in China and the guy who knows the number lives in the Matrix.”

Maher then asked, “How can a company like Tesla be all-in on saving the planet with electric cars and then participate in destroying it with this completely unnecessary online play money?” He also quoted Bill Gates as saying, “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind.”

RELATED: Dogecoin Investors Hope Cryptomaniac Elon Musk Will Make Them Rich on ‘SNL’

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.