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U.S. Senators investigate Bitcoin mining’s environmental impact

Environmental Impact of Bitcoin Mining ‘Deserves the Spotlight 1

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In this post:

  • The Committee on Environment and Public Works chaired by Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) took a closer look at Bitcoin mining.
  • Markey is sponsoring a bill that calls for increased transparency from miners regarding their environmental impact.

On Tuesday, the Committee on Environment and Public Works chaired by Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) took a closer look at Bitcoin mining. Markey is sponsoring a bill that calls for increased transparency from miners regarding their environmental impact, stating that “it deserves the spotlight” due to its exponential growth in the United States over the past two years, its energy-intensive nature, and its potential to create heavily-concentrated wealth.

However, he believes that the full extent of miners’ impact is unknown; thus, his bill would require them to provide more information about their operations to environmental regulators. “We need a federal approach just so we have the information out there about the climatic impacts,” Markey said in his closing statement.

Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska) argued that cryptocurrency mining is not the only industry that relies on extensive data server banks, and Washington D.C. should not be handed the power to decide which industries and sectors are “winners and” and which are “losers.” Thanks to Nebraska’s low energy costs, Ricketts’ home state has seen a notable economic boost from the emerging crypto-mining industry.

Courtney Dentlinger, Vice President of Customer Service and External Affairs for Nebraska Public Power District, appeared on the expert panel for the hearing and testified that there had been a positive impact on the local power industry. She noted that customers with a steady demand for electricity – like 24-7 miners – have typically made the most efficient use of electric infrastructure. Her testimony was presented ahead of the hearing.

Courtney added that crypto mining typically requires a large amount of electricity; however, the load can be very flexible. This advantageous feature has been particularly beneficial during local storm damage-related events and even larger-scale grid events due to miners’ ability to quickly reduce their loads, when necessary, in return for less expensive interruptible rates.

The expert panel was completed by Rob Altenburg, Senior Director of Energy and Climate at PennFuture, an advocacy group for clean energy, and New York State Assemblymember Anna Kelles. As a Democrat, Kelles has expressed her support for the Markey bill. In addition, she authored a two-year moratorium on establishing new Bitcoin miners in New York, which came into effect in November last year.

In her opening remarks, Kelles highlighted the increasing demand for power that has driven cryptocurrency mining firms to revive retired fossil fuel plants like Greenidge in New York’s Seneca Lake. With its perfect climate for cooling— moderate temperatures, clean air, and access to abundant freshwater—New York is an ideal destination for companies looking to mine cryptocurrencies. She noted, “The state provides an ideal environment for cryptocurrency mining companies.”

Kelles expressed concern over the negative impacts of cryptocurrency mining on quality of life, citing issues such as air pollution, electrical waste, and noise pollution that can affect local aquatic life. At the hearing, senators and witnesses explored proof-of-work processes, with several noting Ethereum‘s move to a more sustainable proof-of-stake approach. Senator Markey urged the crypto industry to work smarter, not harder, and consider less energy-intensive digital asset production methods.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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