Congress is preparing an oversight hearing on Bitcoin mining's environmental impact: sources

A Congressional subcommittee is preparing a hearing to examine the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin mining, three sources with knowledge of the matter have told The Block.

The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is apparently working on a roster of witnesses to account for the energy use of proof-of-work crypto validation, especially the Bitcoin network. 

The timing and the witness list have yet to be determined, but the hearing could take place as soon as the end of the month. A source involved in pre-hearing discussions with the subcommittee told The Block that the broader committee has become especially concerned in light of recent events in New York State. 

As bitcoin mining left China early this year, the US took over as the largest source of the network's hashrate in the world. A number of mining operations moved into old power plants in upstate New York, which drew the attention of media and politicians more than simultaneous surges in states like Texas and Wyoming. 

In October, more than 70 environmental groups wrote to leaders in the House and Senate asking for oversight. And in early December, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to Greenidge, the most well-known mining operation in the New York controversy, asking them to account for their practices. Days later, the New York Times put out a report critical of the rise of mining in the state. State lawmaker Anna Kelles has been sounding the alarm on these environmental concerns since early this year. 

Staffers for the Oversight Subcommittee did not respond to requests for comment to confirm or deny preparations for the hearing.