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“Cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our communities,” says US Representative – Crypto News

  • Democratic congressmen have written to the EPA about the increase in energy use by the bitcoin mining industry
  • Environmentalists claim Bitcoin’s energy mix is ​​a red herring, distracting from its estimated 20x increase in energy use in just five years

The rhetoric dividing crypto critics and proponents was sparked by dueling letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) putting crypto mining in the spotlight.

On the one hand, 23 Democratic congressmen co-signed a damning treaty blame the alleged impact of the mining industry on the environment and community.

Their letter, filed last month by Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA), called on the EPA to ensure US crypto mining companies comply with environmental regulations, specifically the Clean Air and Water Acts.

Huffman said the Bitcoin-inspired reopening of gas and coal power plants like Greenidge in upstate New York and the Hardin plant in Montana is undermining “our fight to combat the climate crisis.”

“While some plants claim to be ‘cleaner’ by generating power from waste coal, these coal plants still emit dangerous air pollutants and release toxic pollutants into our waterways,” Huffman wrote. “Cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our communities.”

It sounds dramatic, but this “poisoning” isn’t just related to the potentially outsized greenhouse gas emissions from crypto mining companies. Residents across the US (“from New York, Tennessee to Georgia”) have complained about it noise pollution tied to new bitcoin mining rigs housing hundreds of purpose built rigs that can be very noisy indeed.

Another classic crypto critique from Huffman was the supposed problem of proof-of-work (PoWs) with e-waste. The two most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ether, are mined using PoW, which relies heavily on consumed electricity to distribute new cryptocurrency and process transactions.

It was nice recommended that mining rigs only last an average of 1.29 years due to intentional overuse. This results in the bitcoin industry producing 30,700 tons of e-waste each year (roughly as much as the small IT equipment discarded by the Netherlands), Huffman told the EPA, citing research by controversial figure Alex de Vries .

De Vries previously worked as a data scientist for the Dutch Central Bank with a focus on financial white-collar crime. He is now running a websiteDigiconomist modeling the environmental sustainability of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.

“Industry must be held accountable for this waste and stopped from creating it,” Huffman wrote.

Mining Energiemix is ​​a red herring, says the activist

Huffman’s letter states that Bitcoin produces annual carbon emissions similar to those of Greece. (Proponents dispute this statistic, citing incomplete retrospective estimates of Bitcoin’s energy consumption.)

And so, the Holy Grail for both crypto critics and proponents seems to be an industry that boosts resilient energy grids powered by renewable energy. Finally, bitcoin can use a lot of energy (and even more in the future if prices continue to rise), but if the electricity consumed is renewable, that should ease environmental concerns.

The bitcoin industry responded earlier this week her own letter sent via the Bitcoin Mining Council, a group led by MicroStrategy CEO and famed Bitcoin bull Michael Saylor. It was educated after Tesla stopped accepting Bitcoin for payments, citing concerns about the network’s carbon footprint by Elon Musk.

The group’s mission is to track the energy mix consumed by industry. It’s the newest report published in April, collected self-reported figures from companies that contribute about half of Bitcoin’s hashrate, and found that the network was nearly 60% powered by sustainable energy sources — up from 37% in the first quarter of 2021.

Against this background, is there cause for concern? Scott Faber, who directs government affairs at the activist nonprofit Environmental Working Group, agrees.

Faber highlighted recent warnings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which specifically called the rising power consumption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin a “growing concern.”

The IPCC’s recent climate change mitigation report admitted that there is “uncertainty” about the exact carbon footprint of blockchains and acknowledged that the crypto industry can mitigate damage from decarbonization.

Still, Faber noted that crypto’s sharp rise in power consumption far outstrips other industries and differs from more traditional data centers. He described the climate impact of power generators as a diversionary maneuver; The growing demand for electricity from digital currencies that rely on PoW alone is a concern for EWG, Greenpeace and the IPCC.

“If you look at data center power demand, the IEA found that demand has stagnated even though internet traffic and data center workloads have increased significantly,” Faber said.

Other data transmission networks such as mobile communications would become even more energy efficient, he explained. It’s the exponential increase in electricity consumption that needs to be curbed, the energy mix driving that consumption is just a detail at this point.

“The really important point is the trend – the 20-fold increase in just five years – especially in contrast to other industries,” said Faber.

While this sentiment carries some weight, particularly among climate activists, the bitcoin industry’s moves towards decarbonization or otherwise going “green” should not be underestimated.

Numerous mining companies around the world have pledged to go carbon neutral, with some making major efforts to ensure they don’t use carbon-fuelled energy grids. Their reliance on fossil fuels could hurt in the long run should regulations be imposed that could disrupt electricity supplies, said mining expert Alejandro de la Torre. Uzbekistan has recently moved to inspire miners to set up their own solar panels, for example by charging them twice to connect them to the standard grid.

In any case, there’s a problem: Faber doesn’t believe the Bitcoin Mining Rat’s claims. “I think until some government agency or trusted third party is given the task of measuring, reporting and verifying these claims, they are just that,” he said.

Faber explained that there are many examples where the government, by law or other means, requires industry reporting. One example he gave was the release of toxic chemicals into the environment by industry – each year manufacturers are required to report amounts of toxic chemicals released into the environment to the EPA.

Is it realistic for the bitcoin industry to accept US government interference in its operations? De La Torre responded that Texas power grid ERCOT already releases energy mix data that allows third parties to verify energy mixes. He said more ways to verify mixes used to power power grids would be a good thing.

Carter was more explicit in his response: “Totally ridiculous and unrealistic and an insane standard compared to any other industry,” Carter said. “Buying electricity off the grid and doing calculations isn’t exactly like making toxic chemicals.”

But if the activists get their way, it could very well be in the eyes of regulators.

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The post, “Cryptocurrency Mining Is Poisoning Our Communities,” US Representative Says, is not financial advice.

Source: Crypto News Austria

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