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Bitcoin Mining Council Protest ‘Misleading’ Letter Sent to EPA

Blockworks | David Canellis  | May 5, 2022

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Letters sent to the EPA have deepened battle lines between crypto critics and proponents over Bitcoin’s environmental impact

Bitcoin industry advocates responded this week to a letter submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., and signed by a total of 23 Democratic members of Congress.

The extensive rebuttal sent by the Bitcoin Mining Council, a group representing bitcoin miners, is co-signed by nearly 50 industry figures, including Castle Island Ventures’ Nic Carter — who contributed much of the essay — as well as Block’s Jack Dorsey and Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz.

See: Bitcoin mining is worse for the environment since China banned it

“If you have 23 members of Congress signed onto this thing, it could get messy.”

Carter claimed the original Huffman letter held several inaccuracies:

  • For one, he noted Huffman highlighted the EPA’s denial of a Greenidge application to keep open its coal ash ponds — large dirt ditches used to of harmful coal byproducts that are not biodegradable. But Greenidge is now a gas-only operation that mines bitcoin. The firm uses those ponds to continue mitigating waste associated with its past life as a coal plant. So celebrating the EPA’s move against Greenidge’s coal ash ponds isn’t at all relevant to crypto mining, Carter said.
  • Another sticking point was Huffman’s claim that “a single Bitcoin transaction could power the average US household for a month.” This calculation relies on taking average transaction counts and simply dividing it by the estimated energy usage of the network. The Bitcoin Mining Council’s response labeled the per-transaction energy cost analysis as a “deeply flawed way to reason about Bitcoin, since projecting future energy growth is not a function of transaction count, but instead of value of Bitcoin issuance (which is a function of price and supply growth), together with the fees users are willing to pay to transact.”

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  • He noted that some vertically-integrated crypto mining operations — those that control the data center and its energy source — are already sanctioned by the EPA and some state regulators. Just 2% of Bitcoin’s hashrate comes from such mining operations, according to the council’s response to the EPA.

“It’s a myth to say that the EPA is not aware of these things. They’re very much aware of them, and in some cases they’re supported,” Carter added. However, he did note that noise pollution caused by bitcoin miners is unnecessary, and that he’d actively discourage industry participants from setting up in residential areas.

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