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Cryptomining boom has people’s energy bills skyrocketing; feds mull new rules

Enlarge (credit: Andriy Onufriyenko | Moment)

This is not the summer that Americans want to deal with an unknown number of cryptocurrency firms unexpectedly flooding the power grid. More Americans are already expecting to experience rolling blackouts as the nation’s power grid strains against record heat and drought conditions currently spiking energy usage from coast to coast. Now, lawmakers are worried that US cryptocurrency mining operations planning for rapid growth will potentially further destabilize the grid while quietly spiking carbon emissions and driving up utility costs to more and more consumers.

That’s why Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) joined five other Congress members to submit a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, recommending the agencies combine forces to draft new regulations requiring emissions and energy use reporting from all cryptomining operations nationwide. Only then, Warren and others suggest, will we know exactly how many firms are operating in the US, how much energy is being used, how much damage to the environment is being done, and how many communities are being affected.

The letter provided the EPA and DOE with new information from Congress’ investigation into the environmental impacts of “seven of the largest cryptomining operations in the US.” It’s just a fraction of the whole, but together, these firms plan to increase their total mining capacity by nearly 230 percent, requiring an added electricity consumption than is used to power all the homes in Los Angeles. None of the firms said that it tracks the impacts on consumers connected to power grids, and none of the firms seemed to think they had any reason to fully comply with Congress’ request for information.

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