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US Congressional Group ‘Disturbed’ by Crypto Mining Energy Usage

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·3 min read
David McNew
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In a letter sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), six Democrats led by Rep. Jared Huffman of California and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts requested those agencies require greater emissions and energy use reporting from the crypto mining industry.

“The results of our investigation … are disturbing … revealing that [crypto miners] are large energy users that account for a significant – and rapidly growing – amount of carbon emissions,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “Our investigation suggests that the overall U.S. crypto mining industry is likely to be problematic for energy and emissions,” they added.

The lawmakers said the top seven mining companies have presently developed over 1,045 megawatts (MW) of energy capacity for their mining operations – enough to power all the residences in Houston, the largest city by population in Texas. The group is further alarmed by miners’ plans to increase capacity by nearly 230%, enough to power another 1.9M households.

They also noted that much remains unknown about the full scope of mining activity and requested the two agencies work together to require reporting of energy use and emissions from crypto miners. The group asked for a response from EPA and DOE by Aug. 15.

Read more: Bitcoin Mining and ESG: A Match Made in Heaven

This isn’t the first time the lawmakers have urged federal agencies to look into energy consumptions of the crypto miners. Previously, Huffman and 22 members of the Congress sent a letter to the EPA raising their “serious concerns” about how bitcoin (BTC) mining is polluting communities and having an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

However, in response to that letter, a group of major bitcoin investors – including MicroStrategy’s (MSTR) Michael Saylor, Block’s (SQ) Jack Dorsey and miners such as Core Scientific (CORE) – authored a letter in May, defending bitcoin mining and discussed the many misconceptions about environmental impacts.

The emissions issue has been debated widely, and among recent actions by U.S. policymakers was the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposing that all publicly traded companies report greenhouse-gas emissions from their operations in addition to the amount of energy they consume. The mining industry mostly welcomed the move, hoping to shed light on efforts at using renewable energy sources.

There have also been moves at the state level, with New York’s Senate passing a moratorium impacting bitcoin mining in the state. It’s not a ban of proof-of-work mining per se, but a two-year freeze on starting new bitcoin mining facilities that rely on carbon-based fuel.

Read more: New York Mining 'Ban' Is a Green Opportunity

The mining industry has been vocal against lawmakers' push to curb energy usage. The Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC) – a voluntary global forum of bitcoin mining and other companies in the industry – said that its survey found recent improvements in use of sustainable power mix by the miners and technological efficiency.

The global mining industry’s sustainable electricity mix is now 58.4%, claims the BMC, and the global Bitcoin network’s technological efficiency grew by 63% year over year. “This efficiency gain reaffirms the fact that as the Bitcoin network continues to grow, it will become even more efficient over time,” said the BMC.

Read more: Crypto Mining, the Energy Crisis and the End of ESG