US crypto miners would be required to disclose greenhouse gas emissions under a new bill.
US crypto miners would be forced to disclose greenhouse gas emissions under a new bill, adding pressure to a fast-growing industry criticized for taking a heavy toll on the environment and the network electric.
The legislation, introduced by Democratic Senator Edward Markey, would require crypto miners using more than 5 megawatts of electricity — a threshold most Bitcoin mining companies would cross — to report emissions and power source, according to a copy of the bill shared with Bloomberg News. The US Environmental Protection Agency would conduct a study on the impact of existing and planned digital mining operations – including the level of stress on the energy grid and the use of fossil fuels – and propose any measures that the state regulators could take to reduce their energy demand.
Digital currency mining is energy-intensive, with companies such as Riot Blockchain Inc. and Argo Blockchain often running thousands of specialized computers around the clock, solving equations that allocate crypto assets. According to data from the Center for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge, around 60% of global currency mining is fueled by coal and natural gas, as opposed to renewable energy sources. US mining operations produce the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions of 7 million cars on the road for a year, according to a statement from Markey.
After China banned crypto mining last year, US operators rushed to settle, now accounting for more than a third of global Bitcoin mining operations, from just 3.5% in 2020. They turned to Texas for its business-friendly policies and cheap prices. power, but the explosion of interest has raised fears that the surge in new power demand could strain a power grid already plagued by widespread outages last year.
“Ensuring that crypto mining companies report their greenhouse gas emissions is a necessary step to hold them accountable and protect communities across the country that depend on the network,” said Markey, deputy chairman of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Air Quality, Climate and Nuclear. Security, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Markey signed a letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a fellow Democrat from Massachusetts, asking miners to disclose years of energy use and emissions, but responses have been limited. Markey’s new bill, co-sponsored by fellow Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman and Sen. Jeff Merkley and endorsed by several sustainability-focused groups including the Sierra Club, would earmark $5 million in 2023.
Markey is pushing for hearings in major committees on the issue, a spokesperson for the senator said.
“We would welcome legislation of this nature as long as the bill compels other industries to meet the same standard,” Lee Bratcher, president of the industry group Texas Blockchain Council, said in a statement. The group disputed that mining digital currency consumes an inordinate amount of energy.