Democrats Target Bitcoin Mining in Latest Green Energy Push

Martin Young
Published: Jan 21, 2022, 03:48 GMT+00:00

U.S. lawmakers are scrutinizing Bitcoin yet again as concerns mount over the type of energy used in the power-hungry mining process.

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The loudest critic, as usual, has been vehemently anti-crypto senator Elizabeth Warren who reiterated her concerns over the energy usage of Bitcoin (BTC) mining.

The condemnation came before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing titled “Cleaning Up Cryptocurrency: The Energy Impacts of Blockchains” on Jan. 20.

Warren issued a statement claiming that the high energy usage and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining could “undo much of our work to tackle the climate crisis,” before adding “not to mention the harmful impacts crypto mining has on local environments and electricity prices.”

A large portion of the hearing was an explanation of what cryptocurrencies and blockchains were and why the mining process uses as much energy as it does.

A memo from the office of House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone ahead of the hearing described the situation as a “vicious circle” with market volatility driving demand which increases mining power consumption as more miners compete for the next block.

According to Cambridge University, Bitcoin mining consumes an estimated 138.8 TWh (terawatt hours) per year which is equivalent to that of Ukraine. Earlier this week, EU leaders also took a swipe at Bitcoin mining with some calling for a ban.

In the Crypto Corner

Standing up for the industry and enlightening the politicians with the real facts regarding crypto mining was BitFury CEO and former acting Comptroller of the Currency, Brian Brooks.

Brooks explained that the actual amount of energy used was not as relevant as the proportion of it that is renewable. He stated that if crypto mining was 100% renewable then these concerns would not have arisen.

Brooks said that Bitcoin’s entire energy consumption for last year, 188 TWh out of 155,000 TWh consumed globally, was “sourced more sustainably than other uses on average.”

“The energy mix used by Bitcoin mining was about 58% sustainably sourced last year […] compared to 31% for the U.S. energy grid as a whole.”

He stated that miners always seek the lowest cost energy which comes from excess capacity. This is a huge incentive to harness more of this otherwise wasted energy, Brooks concluded.

Misguided Opinions

If anything, the crypto mining industry has become a lot greener since the exodus from China where a lot of mining was powered by coal. Texas has become a mecca for mining operations and the majority of it is powered by renewables such as wind or solar.

Even facing these facts, some U.S. lawmakers remain staunchly anti-crypto and will do anything in their power to put the brakes on this fledgling decentralized finance industry.

About the Author

Martin has been covering the latest developments in the blockchain and digital asset industry since 2017 when he made his first investment. He has previous trading experience and has worked extensively in IT over the past 2 decades.

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