Bitcoin pump prompts ‘emergency’ review of US crypto miner energy use

Bitcoin pump prompts ‘emergency’ review of US crypto miner energy use

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is demanding crypto miners report their energy consumption for the next six months after concerns about a recent increase in the price of Bitcoin, which is leading to a rush of crypto mining. 

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) — the statistics agency of the DOE — said it is initiating a provisional survey to gauge the electricity usage of local crypto mining companies starting next week, with miners “required to respond with details related to their energy use.”

The Office of Management and Budget greenlit the survey on Jan. 26 after an emergency request from the EIA days earlier claimed Bitcoin’s price “increased roughly 50% in the last three months” would “incentivize more cryptomining activity, which in turn increases electricity consumption.”

Bitcoin (BTC) rose just over 18.5% in the three months to Jan. 24, according to Cointelegraph Markets Pro.

Public comments regarding crypto miner’s energy use will also be collected.

EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis said it would “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 survey is the U.S. government’s latest move to get a handle on the crypto mining industry. The country became the world’s largest hub for miners looking to move operations after China banned crypto mining in 2021.

Lawmakers probed the mining industry in a 2022 congressional hearing over concerns about energy use and fossil fuel emissions. In early 2023, Congress called for the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the impact of crypto mining.

In 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden also floated a proposal to implement a 30% incremental tax on crypto miner’s electricity costs to “reduce mining activity” in the country.

Related: Bitcoin’s water consumption: A new environmental threat?

Bitcoin miners consumed an estimated 121.13 terawatt-hours of electricity globally in 2023 — an all-time high from data going back to 2010, according to Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.

In comparison, 2022 data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows the European country of Belgium consumed 93.8 terawatt-hours.

That consumption is expected to increase, with the IEA forecasting in a Jan. 25 report that crypto mining will use 160 terawatt-hours by 2026.

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