UNITED STATES – MAY 28: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks with a reporter outside the Capitol on Friday, May 28, 2021.
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The government must step in to limit the impact of cryptocurrency mining on climate change, several Democratic U.S. senators and representatives to the Biden administration said in a letter on Friday.
Based on responses from seven of the largest crypto mining companies they surveyed for information on their climate impacts, lawmakers called on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to demand more reporting on energy use from these companies. They argued that the current lack of reporting requirements prevents the government from understanding the extent of the negative environmental impacts of crypto mining.
Meaning. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. , all signed the letter.
Crypto mining is the process by which new cryptocurrency coins are created. Bitcoin and ether, the two most popular cryptocurrencies, currently use a process called “proof of work,” in which networks of computers solve increasingly difficult mathematical problems to create each new unit of currency. (Ether is in the process of switching to a different method.) The idea is to impose a relative scarcity on new coins to maintain price stability, while validating transactions in a way that cannot be easily faked.
But the process is energy-intensive and has drawn criticism from lawmakers who fear it could contribute to global warming and higher energy prices. The New York State Legislature recently passed a bill banning new crypto mining outfits unless they use 100% renewable energy, though the governor has yet to enact it. .
The lawmakers said they were not given full information in response to their questions, “But the information they provided reveals that the mining operations of these companies are large and growing, have a major impact on climate change and that federal intervention is needed.”
The group found that six of the seven companies alone — Greenidge, Riot, Bitdeer, Stronghold, Marathon, and Bit Digital — have built nearly enough capacity to power every residence in Houston, Texas. They said the seventh company, Bitfury, did not include power consumption information in its response.
They also found that this sample of companies planned to increase their total mining capacity by nearly 230% over the next few years, which would represent “enough new capacity to power a city of more than 1.9 million homes. “, according to lawmakers.
“The results of our survey, which collected data from just seven companies, are concerning, with this limited data alone revealing that cryptominers are energy-intensive consumers that account for a significant – and rapidly growing – amount of d ‘carbon emissions,’ they wrote. “Our survey suggests that the entire US cryptomining industry is likely to be problematic for energy and emissions.”
The EPA and Department of Energy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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