CFTC chair eyes disclosures to curb energy consumption in Bitcoin mining

Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Rostin Benham is looking to research and incentives to address energy usage in bitcoin mining. 

During the Washington Post's "Evolution of Money" event, Benham responded to concerns about bitcoin being "extremely energy-intensive" by pointing to research provisions in the newly introduced legislation from US Senators Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The legislation calls on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to create a report on energy consumption in the digital asset industry. 

Benham said it's not yet clear how the industry will change and evolve over time as it addresses energy usage, but the current state of things includes "a pretty significant dislocation" of energy. Benham said that dislocation needs to be addressed, whether it be through a shift in technology, like moving to proof-of-stake mechanisms, or other ways.

But the minimum change, said Benham, is increasing the flow of information to investors and consumers. With the right and accurate disclosures, Benham said he expects people will move away from energy consumptive behavior.

"On the one hand, we need the industry to transition and change and understand that the energy consumption is too big," he said. "But we also need consumers to understand and appreciate what's at stake so through essentially economic incentives they can steer their choice away from the more energy consumptive behavior."