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Is Crypto Mining Driving Up Power Costs For U.S. Consumers?

A group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, demand that six major cryptocurrency mining companies detail their high energy usage, the possible impact on the environment, and the role in driving up power bills for U.S. consumers.    

Riot Blockchain, Marathon Digital Holdings, Stronghold Digital Mining, Bitdeer, Bitfury Group, and Bit Digital were sent letters by the lawmakers, who were concerned about “their extraordinarily high energy usage,” Senator Warren said on Thursday.

In the letters, the lawmakers want written answers from the six crypto mining companies by February 10, 2022, on the amount of energy each of their facilities consume, projected energy use for the next five years, plans to address the climate impact of their increasing operations, and details of their purchasing agreements with electricity providers.

“Bitcoin mining’s power consumption has more than tripled from 2019 to 2021, rivaling the energy consumption of Washington state, and of entire countries like Denmark, Chile, and Argentina,” the statement from the lawmakers says.

“The extraordinarily high energy usage and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining could undermine our hard work to tackle the climate crisis - not to mention the harmful impacts cryptomining has on local environments and electricity prices. We need more information on the operations of these cryptomining companies to understand the full scope of the consequences for our environment and local communities,” Senator Warren said.

Crypto mining globally has drawn a lot of attention in recent months, including from regulators, amid the current energy crisis in Europe and rising energy costs for consumers, including in the United States.

In Iceland, for example, last month, the biggest utility curtailed power to some industrial activities, data centers, and cryptocurrency mining due to low hydropower generation.

Earlier this month, the vice-chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), Erik Thedéen, told the Financial Times that the European Union should consider banning the more energy-intensive method of cryptocurrency mining, as using a lot of energy undermines the bloc’s climate goals.

Crypto mining has become a lucrative business, but its mining method “proof of work” consumes a lot of energy, which ultimately has officials and analysts question the social benefit of cryptocurrencies.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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