August 13, 2022

Legislators: U.S. crypto-mining companies must disclose their energy consumption

It’s no secret that cryptocurrency mining can consume a lot of electricity. But now, a group of US lawmakers are calling on the federal government to require national crypto-mining companies to regularly report their energy consumption and carbon emissions.

On Friday, six Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), sent a letter urging(Opens in a new window) the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to enforce more transparency in the crypto mining industry.

Lawmakers conducted their own investigation, which looked at seven major crypto mining companies in the country. The survey found that the companies can collectively use at least 1,045 megawatts of electricity to mine cryptocurrencies, which is almost enough energy to power every residence in Houston, Texas, according to their estimates.

“Our investigation suggests that the entire U.S. cryptomining industry is likely to be problematic for energy and emissions. But little is known about the full extent of cryptomining activity,” wrote legislators in their letter(Opens in a new window).

The lawmakers added, “There are no national or state reporting requirements or compiling the locations of cryptomining facilities in the United States, and no federal regulations specifically governing cryptomining. As a result, policy makers and the public do not have a comprehensive source of information on where these operations are located, how much energy they consume, and what their energy sources are. »

Lawmakers are particularly concerned about whether cryptocurrency mining contributes to carbon emissions and can drive up electricity prices. According to their survey, many crypto mining companies are also planning to expand their operations, which is bound to increase electricity consumption.

In their defense, several crypto mining companies have told lawmakers that they use environmentally friendly mining procedures. Bit Digital, for example, claims that the majority of its mining operations run on carbon-free sources. Meanwhile, Stronghold Digital Mining relies on “coal waste reclamation,” or leftovers from coal mining, for power generation. In the process, the surrounding land is then restored to its natural conditions.

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Nevertheless, the lawmakers’ survey found that some mining still generates significant amounts of carbon emissions. “Bit Digital reported that its operations resulted in approximately 92,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2021 and projected 1.075 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2022, increasing to 1.2 million metric tons in 2023 and the beyond – annual emissions equivalent to those of more than 260,000 automobiles,” the letter adds.

As a result, lawmakers say it’s time for US federal agencies to step in by requiring crypto mining companies to report their impact on the power grid and the environment. “These data collected would enable valuable public policy activities, including better tracking of energy use and trends, a better database for policy-making, better data for national mitigation analyzes , better technology policy assessment capabilities for the sector, and better modeling of national policies and regional grid loads and transitions, among other goals,” the lawmakers added.

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that it received the lawmakers’ letter. “And we will respond accordingly,” an agency spokesperson told PCMag.

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