Environmental groups urge US government to take action on crypto miners

A group of eight environmental-focused organizations have called on different government agencies under the Biden administration to implement new approaches in response to Proof-of-Work and other crypto mining operations.

In a letter sent Monday to the US Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Environmental Working Group, Earthjustice, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Seneca Lake Guardian and Milwaukee Riverkeeper urged the White House to enact policies aimed at curbing “electricity use and climate pollution associated with digital currencies that rely on [PoW].” Specifically, the organizations alleged that crypto mining in the United States harmed communities by creating a growing demand for electricity from fossil fuels, threatened supply chains with demand for platform-specific application integrated circuits, created a significant amount of e-waste and would not “help the transition”. to renewable electricity.”

The group of eight proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency subject PoW mining companies to “strict reviews” around operating permits “to mitigate the harms of e-waste disposal from bulk cryptocurrency mining.” , as well as address claims of noise pollution allegedly caused by mining platforms. In addition, they asked the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to create a registry for many PoW mining operations in an effort to get companies to “disclose their sources and amounts of energy.”

Other recommendations included that the Department of Energy implement energy efficiency standards for PoW miners, with the cap adjusted over time “to eventually phase out” proof-of-work mining. However, the largest request appeared to be directed at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, asking financial regulators to limit cryptocurrency exchanges to listing digital assets that meet certain “environmental standards.” and electrical”, as well as rejecting “misleading claims regarding the environmental impacts of digital currencies”.

“Requiring registered exchanges to only list digital assets whose transactions consume electricity below a certain energy efficiency standard would drive innovation or a transition to other validation methods,” the environmental groups said.

Related: Go green or die? Bitcoin miners aim for carbon neutrality by mining near data centers

As the crypto space continues to grow with many investors in the United States, industry leaders and lawmakers have stepped up to address issues related to financial risks as well as the potential impact on the environment of Bitcoin (BTC) mining. In April, a group of 23 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the EPA saying that “the rapidly expanding cryptocurrency industry must be held accountable” and claiming that “cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our communities.”

The Bitcoin Mining Council responded with its own letter written by MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on May 2, alleging that the group of lawmakers had gotten several key issues wrong. The industry leader put down the alleged misconception that “power generation facilities” cause pollution, not BTC mining itself.

The New York state government is currently considering a bill that could impose a two-year ban on all new PoW mining facilities in the state that use carbon-based fuel to power their operations. Both the Sierra Club and the Seneca Lake Guardian have rejected mining company Greenidge Generation Holdings’ operations in the state’s Seneca Lake.