Lawmakers Release Responses From Seven Large Cryptomining Companies Showing Extraordinarily High Energy Use and Climate Impact from Cryptomining
Seven Cryptominers Have Developed Enough Capacity to Power all Residences in Houston, Texas
Washington (July 15, 2022) — Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), highlighting findings from their investigation into the environmental impacts of cryptomining and requesting that the EPA and DOE work together to require cryptominers to report their emissions and energy use.
“The results of our investigation … are disturbing … revealing that cryptominers are large energy users that account for a significant – and rapidly growing – amount of carbon emissions. Our investigation suggests that the overall U.S. cryptomining industry is likely to be problematic for energy and emissions. But little is known about the full scope of cryptomining activity. Given these concerns, it is imperative that your agencies work together to address the lack of information about cryptomining’s energy use and environmental impacts, and use all available authorities at your disposal … to require reporting of energy use and emissions from cryptominers,” wrote the lawmakers.
Cryptomining’s energy usage rivals that of entire countries. The total annual global electricity consumption associated with just the two largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, Bitcoin and Ethereum, has been comparable to the annual electricity usage of the United Kingdom and resulted in almost 80 million tons of carbon dioxide emission in 2021. This substantial energy use also drives up electricity costs for consumers and small businesses. According to a recent study, “the power demands of cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York push up annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for individuals.”
The lawmakers note that state and federal regulators know very little about the full scope of electricity use and emissions associated with cryptomining, given the lack of national or state reporting requirements and data about the locations and operations of cryptomining facilities.
In December 2021 and January 2022, the lawmakers sent letters to seven large cryptomining companies, seeking information about the locations of their facilities, their energy sources and consumption, and the climate impacts associated with this production. While the companies did not provide full and complete information, their responses and the lawmakers’ investigation revealed the following:
The lawmakers are calling on the EPA and DOE to use their authority to require reporting about cryptomining’s energy use and environmental impact and answer a series of questions about their ability and plans to require this reporting by August 15, 2022.