As an experienced energy analyst following the crypto mining industry, I’ve closely observed the recent developments surrounding the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) attempts to survey crypto miners about their energy usage. Based on my analysis and understanding of the situation, I believe that the DOE is making progress but needs to be more inclusive and transparent in its approach.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) encountered legal obstacles during its initial attempt to gather data on crypto mining companies’ energy consumption. Now, in a new approach, the department intends to consult with representatives from the crypto industry before making another attempt to collect this information.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a federal agency under the Department of Energy responsible for energy data collection and analysis, held a webinar on Wednesday for public feedback. This event welcomed inputs from various stakeholders, including crypto miners and industry players, regarding the design of an upcoming survey in connection with a proposed rulemaking to be announced in the Federal Register.

In January, the agency issued a compulsory questionnaire to approximately 500 identified commercial crypto miners. They were requested to provide comprehensive information about their energy consumption, failing which they could face both civil and criminal consequences. This data collection was endorsed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has jurisdiction over federal agencies and manages the federal budget, under the guise of an emergency data request. Therefore, it bypassed the usual notice and comment process.

Crypto miners, including Marty Bent from Cathedra Bitcoin, swiftly reacted with indignation upon learning about the mandatory survey for their industry. In a blog post, Bent labeled it “Orwellian” and voiced apprehensions that such information collection could potentially lead to an extensive database of mining operations within the United States.

In the coming month, the Texas Blockchain Council (TBC) and mining company Riot Platforms initiated a lawsuit against the Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Information Administration (EIA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and several officials. They alleged that these entities had breached the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and sought a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to halt the survey until due notice and comment procedures were followed.

As an analyst, I can share that the Energy Information Administration (EIA) initially paused their survey in February. Now, they’re attempting to conduct it once more.

Take two

I was among the over 100 individuals who attended the EIA’s engaging 45-minute webinar last Wednesday. Ten insightful contributors graced the event with their presence, comprising crypto miners, industry insiders, researchers, and even an inquisitive member of the public.

Margot Paez, a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech and sustainability consultant at the Bitcoin Policy Institute who specializes in Bitcoin research, concurred with the need for a survey but expressed caution towards the Energy Information Administration (EIA) due to potential biases. She proposed engaging an independent organization to oversee the study instead.

As a crypto investor, I’d like to share my perspective on a recent suggestion made by Lee Bratcher, president and founder of the Texas Blockchain Council, during an Energy Information Administration (EIA) discussion. Bratcher proposed expanding the EIA survey to include traditional data centers in addition to cryptocurrency-focused data centers. This expansion, he argued, would ensure a more accurate representation of the industry as a whole.

“Stephen Harvey, from the EIA, expressed that all possibilities are under consideration at this stage. It’s worth mentioning that taking traditional data centers into account for the survey is definitely a viable option.”

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is working on a preliminary suggestion at present, which they plan to release in the Federal Register within this quarter. Following this publication, there will be a 60-day timeframe for industry feedback during the comment period.

“After the completion of the 60-day period, we will incorporate all the acquired data and assess if any modifications are required based on newly obtained information. We will address significant concerns that surface during this evaluation and submit an updated posting in the federal registry.”

After Harvey’s explanation, there is a 30-day period for review. Subsequently, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will have the authority to determine if the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can proceed with their survey.

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2024-07-10 23:51