Federal authorities are being urged by Democratic politicians to take action against crypto mining

Congressional Democrats issued a letter to two federal authorities on Friday, pushing them to take action on the rapid growth of Bitcoin mining in the United States.

An examination by legislators discovered that a small number of cryptominers were using a significant amount of electricity, prompting a letter to the leaders of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In response, the MPs have asked the authorities to force crypto-mining businesses to disclose their energy use and emissions statistics.

According to the letter, seven of the largest crypto-mining businesses in the United States have a combined ability to utilise more than 1 gigawatt of power. Almost enough to power all of Houston’s houses, as the letter puts it, is the equivalent of two coal plants. While this is a start, there are no regulatory safeguards in place to fully capture the environmental effect of crypto-rapid mining’s surge in the United States.

That’s just the beginning.

China’s 2021 crackdown on crypto-mining has fueled a surge in the activity in the United States during the last year. The United States is the world’s largest Bitcoin mining hub, with data centres operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to mine the digital currency. In order to validate transactions and earn Bitcoin, these data centres house specialised machinery that competes to solve complicated equations. Computing power consumes a lot of energy, which leads to pollution.

The switch from ample hydropower in China to coal and gas-derived energy from the US grid has certainly rendered the Bitcoin network considerably dirtier.

Policymakers are concerned about the effect crypto mining will have on the country’s climate change objectives and power rates as a result of all this. It has already pushed up power costs in New York City, for example. Plattsburgh, New York households witnessed electricity costs climb by up to 300 in the winter of 2018 when Bitcoin miners set up business nearby.

Earlier this month, the state of New York approved legislation prohibiting the issuance of new licences for fossil fuel power plants used to mine energy-intensive currencies for a period of two years. However, despite the fact that the bill has yet to be signed into law, the state has already implemented regulatory measures to prevent mining. On the basis that its usage for Bitcoin mining “would be inconsistent with the statewide greenhouse gas emission restrictions,” New York refused the Greenidge Generating Station a renewable air permit in June.

When Warren and other Democrats filed questions to Greenidge and other firms in January, they requested details on their energy consumption and emissions. According to the letter issued today, Greenidge was responsible for 273,326 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the course of a year, which is the equivalent of the tailpipe emissions of over 60,000 automobiles.

Letters like this one don’t do justice to how crypto-mining affects Americans. In the first place, the MPs noted that “none of the corporations supplied full and comprehensive information in answer to our enquiries.

It is possible to get a sense of how much energy is being used by crypto mining firms in the United States by looking at other indicators. The crypto mining business in Texas, another US hotbed for Bitcoin mining, temporarily shut down last week, freeing up around 1 gigawatt of electricity. By responding to an urgent plea from the state’s grid operator for a reduction in power use, the businesses stepped their production.

That insatiable want for fuel is just intensifying.

There is an increasing need for energy. According to an email from an ERCOT representative to The Verge this week, “over 27 gigawatts of crypto load is working on linking over the next four years” (the spokesperson declined to be named). Experts told The Verge that this is an incredibly big load to put to the grid in such a short period of time.

In the letter to the EPA and the Department of Energy, a group of researchers gathered data from just seven cryptomining companies, and the results are “disturbing,” they write. “This limited data alone reveals that cryptominers are large energy users that account for a significant—and rapidly growing—volume of carbon emissions.” Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA), and Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Jared Huffman (D-CA), signed the bill into law (D-CA).