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US lawmakers introduce a bill for EPA to investigate energy consumption by crypto mining

The lawmakers claimed that Bitcoin miners consumed approximately 1.4 percent of the country's electricity

Shashank Bhardwaj
Published: Dec 9, 2022 12:39:29 PM IST

US lawmakers introduce a bill for EPA to investigate energy consumption by crypto miningImage: Shutterstock

Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), as well as Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), introduced new legislation on Thursday. If passed, this bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the energy consumption and environmental impact of crypto mining. California Representative Jared Huffman and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey announced on December 8 that they were ‘sounding the alarm’ about the energy consumption of crypto mining in the United States.

Huffman said, “Granting this industry impunity to inflict such environmental harm runs counter to numerous federal policies, and we need to understand the full harm this industry presents…My bill with Senator Markey will require crypto mining facilities to report their carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a detailed interagency study on crypto’s environmental impacts — finally pulling the curtain back on this industry.”

The lawmakers said, “The Crypto-Asset Environmental Transparency Act would direct the EPA to produce a report examining the effect miners using more than 5 megawatts of power have on greenhouse gas emissions.” They further warned that it could jeopardise US energy goals and local power grids. They also claimed that Bitcoin miners consumed approximately 1.4 percent of the country's electricity. Notably, crypto miners responded to criticism of their use of fossil fuels in an October report published by the lobbying group Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC). The report stated that the miners had an estimated 59.4 percent sustainable energy mix in the third quarter of this year. It was up from 58.4 percent in the first quarter.

The Environmental Working Group's senior vice president for government affairs, Scott Faber, expressed support for the legislation. He called proof-of-work crypto assets wasteful by design. He further claimed that BTC and other tokens would incentivise miners to use more electricity.

According to him, “The recently completed ethereum merge and past code changes show that transformation by the bitcoin community is possible — the way we’ve all adapted to new ways of powering our homes and cars and how we grow our food...Every industry, including the financial sector, can reduce its electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions. Adding more electricity demand – as proof of work mining will ultimately require – sends us in the wrong direction.”

The bill also mentions noise and water pollution as issues. Furthermore, the bill would impose on mining facilities the same energy recommendations that are already in place for data centres. The document suggests that the EPA propose rules to cover the crypto-mining industry to ensure that it is subject to greenhouse gas emission reporting and other similar rules. It will further guide EPA to assess whether any mining facilities are operating without the necessary permits.

The bill said, “Crypto-asset mining operations ... are often designed to generally increase computing requirements over time, which can lead to increased energy consumption…A crypto-asset network, Bitcoin, consumes more energy annually than countries such as Chile or Bangladesh consume.”

The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash

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