Environmental Groups Urge US Government to Take Action Against Cryptocurrency Miners

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

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

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 cryptocurrency mining in bulk.” , as well as to address noise pollution complaints allegedly caused by mining rigs. Additionally, 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 for companies to “disclose their sources and amounts of energy consumed.”

Other recommendations include that the Department of Energy implement energy efficiency standards for PoW miners, with a stricter limit on the time “to finally phase out” proof-of-work mining. However, the largest petition 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 and Of electricity”, as well as to oppose “misleading claims about the environmental impact 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 transition to other validation methods,” environmental groups say.

As the cryptocurrency space continues to grow with many investors in the United States, industry leaders and lawmakers have stepped forward to address issues regarding 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 “growing crypto industry must be held accountable”; claiming that “cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our communities.”

The Bitcoin Mining Council responded with its own letter written by the CEO of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor, to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on May 2, stating that the group of legislators had been wrong on several key issues. The industry leader placed the alleged error on the “power generating facilities” causing the contamination, not the BTC mining itself.

The New York state government is studying a bill that could ban all new PoW mining facilities in the state from using carbon-based fuel to power their operations for two years. Both the Sierra Club and the Seneca Lake Guardian have opposed mining company Greenidge Generation Holdings’ operations in the state’s Seneca Lake.

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