US lawmakers eye environmental impact of crypto mining 

Quick Take

  • House lawmakers sent letters to four crypto mining companies this week, seeking to learn more about the environmental impact of proof-of-work operations.
  • The House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to Core Scientific, Marathon Digital Holdings, Riot Blockchain, Inc. and Stronghold Digital Mining.

     

US House lawmakers are seeking information from four crypto mining companies in an effort to understand the environmental impacts of blockchain technology.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to Core Scientific, Marathon Digital Holdings, Riot Blockchain, Inc. and Stronghold Digital Mining on Wednesday. The committee is studying the impact of proof of work and how it relates to emissions and “excess electronic waste.”

The move comes as Washington regulators take a closer look at cryptocurrency amid this summer’s market crash. Additionally, Ethereum is expected to merge its proof-of-work blockchain with its proof-of-stake chain next month.

“While we understand that blockchain technology holds immense promise that could make our personal information more secure and economy more efficient, the energy consumption and hardware required to support PoW-based cryptocurrencies may, in some instances, produce severe externalities in the form of harmful emissions and excess electronic waste (e-waste),” reads the committee letter to Stronghold Digital Mining.

The letter was signed by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the committee chair, along with Reps. Bobby Rush, Diana DeGette and Paul Tonko. 

The committee requested information on how much energy each company's mining facilities used in 2021, what energy sources the facilities use and the proportion of energy used that is offset by renewable energy credits. The lawmakers also asked how many days companies curtailed crypto mining to support grid stability in the last 12 months, along with the average cost per megawatt hour and the per megawatt-hour profit at each facility. 

Another group of policymakers last month urged the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to require miners to report information about emissions and energy use.


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Stephanie covers policy and regulation. She is based in Washington, D.C.