U.S. Drilling Down on Crypto Miners' Energy Use Draws Ire From Community

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is starting a provisional survey of electricity consumption data from cryptocurrency mining companies, drawing criticism from the community.

Starting next week, the survey will require “identified” commercial miners to respond with details related to their energy use. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) authorized the survey on Jan. 26 as an emergency collection of data request, the EIA said in a press release on Thursday.

“We intend to continue to analyze and write about the energy implications of cryptocurrency mining activities in the United States,” EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis said in the statement. “We will specifically focus on how the energy demand for cryptocurrency mining is evolving, identify geographic areas of high growth, and quantify the sources of electricity used to meet cryptocurrency mining demand.”

The move garnered concern and criticism from the mining community, with some participants calling on the miners to shun the survey. Marty Bent, a bitcoin advocate and director of mining firm Catherdra Bitcoin, said in a blog post that the EIA seems to be starting to “create a hyper-detailed registry of mining operations” in the U.S.

“When I read the press release and the filing my initial thought was, Interesting. Maybe this will turn out to be a net positive for the industry,” Bent wrote. However, after digging deeper, he called the survey “one of the more Orwellian things I’ve seen come out of this Administration,” as it requires very granular data, such as specific information about mining fleets and hash rate data.

Crypto mining energy use has been a point of contention between the industry and regulators and lawmakers ever since the process jumped from just needing a laptop to requiring industrial-scale installations, with both sides voicing strong opinions.

Last year, a group of Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C., led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy, urging the government to compel crypto miners to disclose their energy consumption data.

The new EIA survey efforts seem to have hit a nerve with the mining community because it appears to be mandatory by Federal law for commercial miners to respond to the survey.

“They have pre-formatted delinquency notices for those companies that do not respond, which include threats of criminal and civil penalties for non-compliance including a $10,633 fine PER DAY for failure to report,” said Alex Brammer, Director at Bitcoin Today Coalition, in a post on X. “This is egregious and needs to be met with immediate legal action.”

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2024-02-01 20:27