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23 Congressional Democrats Call on EPA to Investigate Bitcoin Mining Facilities

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EPA Bitcoin Mining

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A group of 23 US politicians led by Rep. Jared Huffman have urged the EPA to investigate if Bitcoin mining firms are following environmental rules.

They specifically expressed their “serious concerns” in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on April 20, claiming that “crypto” mining operations in the US may be violating regulations including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

The signatories express worry that “proof-of-work ‘crypto’ mining is poisoning our communities” and that:

“Efforts are currently underway to re-open closed gas and coal facilities to power the cryptocurrency industry and undermine our battle to combat the climate crisis. While some facilities claim to be “cleaner” by creating energy from coal refuse, these coal-fired power plants still emit hazardous air pollutants and leak toxic contaminants into our waterways.”

House Democrat Jared Huffman proposed PoS as a 99% more energy-efficient than Bitcoin mining process.

Proof-of-work (PoW) mining has long been criticized for “consuming a lot of energy”, particularly in the fight against “climate change”.

The latest criticism of mining came from Congressman Jared Huffman. On Wednesday, he wrote the EPA, asking it to look into the “public and environmental harm caused by PoW.” 

22 additional House Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, signed the letter supporting Huffman’s harsh position on mining.

  • The California congressman argued in the letter that due to the rise in popularity of the Bitcoin protocol, quick action is essential to address the environmental danger and pollution related with Bitcoin mining.
  • A single Bitcoin transaction could power an average US family for a month, according to Huffman, and Bitcoin emits as much carbon as Greece does in a year.
  • Although Huffman acknowledged that mining operations now employ “coal refuse” — a better energy source – coal-fired power stations still generate “hazardous air pollution and seep poisonous contaminants  into our waterways.” he said

“Bitcoin mining is poisoning our communities”— This is the ”Then They Fight You Phase”

The letter continued on with the common misunderstood and undereducated claims against Bitcoin mining.

  • “Bitcoin mining alone creates roughly 30,700 tons of electronic garbage per year,” the letter stated.
  • The letter also cited noise pollution as a source of harm to nearby populations.
  • The environmentally progressive Democrat asked the EPA to assess if existing laws adequately safeguard public health and welfare from “cryptocurrency facilities.”
  • Apart from that, Huffman commended President Joe Biden’s recent executive order asking for a broad study of “crypto”, including its energy usage.

Breaking Through the ”ESG” and Bitcoin Energy FUD

As Bitcoin has come into the mainstream, investors and the general public have questions about how it works. One of those is the environmental effect of mining, the method through which the protocol creates new Bitcoin and verifies transactions.

First, a fact: Bitcoin mining consumes a lot of energy. That is undeniable.

As prices rise, more miners join, increasing energy usage (at least until the next halving).

But, like many things, determining the environmental implications of energy consumption is complex. In this piece, we’ll examine some of the most common complaints and assess their validity.

Myth: Bitcoin contributes significantly to climate change.

The finest available science says this isn’t true. While Bitcoin uses a lot of energy, it doesn’t imply it’s a big contributor to climate change.

It helps to understand how mining works to comprehend why.

Bitcoin employs mining to create new currency and validate new transactions. Global, decentralized computer networks protect blockchains (the virtual ledger that documents Bitcoin transactions).

Miners are compensated for their processing power with Bitcoin or fractions of Bitcoin known as Satoshis. The miners protect the blockchain, the blockchain rewards the coins, and the coins incentivize the miners to secure the network.

As recently as April, headlines warned that emissions from China’s Bitcoin mining might cause catastrophic global warming.

But the report on which these pieces were based was faulty. The figures come from China’s overall fuel mix, not miner’s specific fuel mix.

The researchers thought Bitcoin was coal-dependent since much of China’s electric system is coal-based. So why isn’t it?

FACTS:

  • Miners are rewarded for finding the cheapest energy sources. That usually signifies unused electricity or cheap renewable energy.
  • In Sichuan, China, extra hydropower allows mines to run on 95% renewable energy.
  • 75% of miners now utilize renewable energy.
  • Most importantly, the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index researchers determined that Bitcoin’s “environmental footprint is now minimal at best.”

Myth: Bitcoin is anti-environmental

The converse situation seems more plausible as both Bitcoin and green energy technologies advance. Bitcoin miners seek out the cheapest power sources.

The easiest approach for miners to maximize income is to select regions where there is surplus supply. In reality, Bitcoin can help make renewable energy more affordable and available to everyone:

FACTS:

  • Renewable energy is usually abundant. The electricity goes to waste when the grid can’t handle it.
  • Bitcoin can turn this extra energy into wealth while reducing pollution.
  • Mining businesses near green energy sources can help utilities monetize surplus supply. In fact, one publicly listed power firm has looked at directly mining surplus supplies to build out sustainable energy facilities.
  • Bitcoin encourages corporations to create more green infrastructure, lowering the cost of sustainable energy. This positive loop can help battle climate change.

Myth: Bitcoin is intrinsically inefficient compared to traditional systems

Uncertainty about how Bitcoin works causes many worrisome headlines. To handle the 1 billion credit card transactions each day, Bitcoin would demand 14x the world’s total power.

These figures usually combine the energy cost of mining Bitcoin with the cost of transactions.

FACTS:

  • It’s not transactions that use a lot of energy.
  • In addition to generating new bitcoin, the “mining” process verifies new transactions. Miners create new bitcoin, as the name implies.
  • Not per transaction, but per block. Encouraging more transactions per block with mechanisms like batching, Segwit, and the Lightning Network will and have reduce energy costs.

Myth: Bitcoin consumes “excessive” amounts of electricity.

Because Bitcoin is so young, the thought that it uses as much electricity as Norway is startling. But ponder: Norway has a $400 billion GDP. Bitcoin’s overall economic worth (market capitalization) has reached $1 trillion.

It’s difficult to compare, however keep in mind that everything requires energy. The value obtained from the usage of resources determines whether or not the use of energy is justifiable.

By that standard, Bitcoin is a far more efficient resource user than many industries. Here’s some context:

FACTS:

  • The energy wasted by idle household gadgets could power bitcoin mining for 1.5 years in the US alone.
  • Bitcoin uses half the energy of gold mining and a sixth of bank branches and ATMs.

Bitcoin and Restoring Economic Stability

The security of the bitcoin monetary system is vitally necessary for future economic stability, especially since the alternatives (fiat and gold) are inherently defective.

We’re already lost if we wait for hyperinflation.

But Venezuela is a real illustration of the necessity of energy generation to the operation of civilization. Everyday consumption requires some energy input. The coordination of those energy inputs is based on the money we consume.

A functional monetary system is required to coordinate resources for essential services. When a monetary system fails, so does social coordination and even the social fabric.

If money is needed to organize commerce, then protecting the monetary system should be the highest and best use of energy. First, secure the trading base, then focus on derivatives.

Concerns about how much energy Bitcoin uses or will use are a red herring. We shouldn’t sacrifice electricity to power houses; we’ll never have enough electricity to power homes without a viable monetary system to organize economic activity and marshal resources.

Because Bitcoin is a money system, its purpose as a source of energy will continue to be met.

“If it prevents one instance of hyperinflation such as Venezuela from happening […], Bitcoin’s energy consumption would be the best bargain humanity ever got.” — Saifedean Ammous

Bitcoin is a backup switch to the current global financial system design and will soon be its primary motor.

Leaving aside the current systemic dangers, Bitcoin is a fundamentally more solid monetary system. And it is one based on energy generation and consumption.

You don’t have to assume that the dollar will follow the Venezuelan Bolivar’s path to understand the necessity of monetary stability and the development of energy resources.

And the danger of hyperinflation is so asymmetric that the cost of Bitcoin energy consumption is negligible.

In order to safeguard its monetary network, Bitcoin will use any and all energy resources. The more people appreciate its long-term stability, the more energy it uses.

Finally, this consumption ensures all other energy derivatives are met, which is why safeguarding the Bitcoin network is the most critical long-term usage of energy.

The fundamental explanation for the amount of energy Bitcoin should and will require is economic stability and economic freedom.

Everything else is noise.

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