The actual extent of cryptomining activities is unknown, senators like Sen. Elizabeth Warren told the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Lawmakers: US cryptocurrency mining firms must disclose their energy usage
It is common knowledge that the process of cryptocurrency mining may be very energy intensive. However, a group of US politicians is now requesting that the federal government mandate that domestic crypto-mining companies report their energy use and carbon emissions on a regular basis.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was one of six Democrats who, on Friday, wrote to the EPA and the Department of Energy, requesting (Opens in a new window) that the agencies take more measures to ensure openness in the cryptocurrency mining sector.
The legislators looked into this on their own and examined seven of the largest cryptocurrency miners in the country as part of their probe. According to the data gathered, cryptocurrency mining by these organizations consumes at least 1,045 MW, which is nearly enough energy to supply all of the households in Houston, Texas.
Our research indicates that the crypto-mining business as a whole in the United States could provide serious challenges with regard to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. However, the lawmakers noted in their letter that “nothing is known about the entire scale of cryptomining activity” (Opens in a new window).
The legislators went on to say, “There is no national or state reporting requirement or compilation of the locations of cryptomining sites in the United States, and no federal regulations particularly overseeing cryptomining.” As a result, policymakers and the public lack a centralized resource for data on the location, energy consumption, and energy supply of such operations.
Legislators are especially worried about whether or not cryptocurrency mining is a significant contributor to carbon emissions and whether or not it can cause electricity price increases. Their research showed that many crypto-mining firms were planning to expand their operations, which would increase their demand for electricity.
Several cryptocurrency mining firms have defended their practices by claiming to politicians that they only employ green methods of mining. For instance, Bit Digital claims that the vast majority of their mining is powered by carbon-free means. Meanwhile, Stronghold Digital Mining uses what it calls “reclamation of coal refuse,” or waste products from the coal mining industry, to produce electricity. This technique returns the area to its original state.
However, the research conducted by the legislators revealed that some of the mining is still producing substantial amounts of carbon emissions. Bit Digital’s efforts “resulted in an anticipated 92,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2021,” the letter continued. “In 2022, Bit Digital expects to emit 1.075 million metric tons of CO2,” it predicted. “In 2023 and beyond, Bit Digital expects to emit 1.2 million metric tons of CO2.”
Legislators argue that the time has come for federal agencies in the United States to intervene and mandate that crypto-mining businesses report the effects of their operations on the power grid and the environment. Furthermore, the collected information “would enable valuable public policy activities, such as better monitoring of energy use and trends, better evidence basis for policy making, improved data for national mitigation analyses, better abilities for evaluating technology policies for the sector, and better modeling of national and regional grid loads and transitions,” as stated by the legislators.