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Bitcoin’s Carbon Footprint Has Sparked Attention From US Congress

Source: Dmitry Demidko

Crypto mining has recently caught the attention of many, and it looks like it also attracted attention from authorities. 

A subcommittee of the larger House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, is reported to have shown interest in the carbon footprint and environmental impact of crypto mining as they planned a hearing purposely for the scrutiny of Bitcoin. 

According to a report, the Subcommittee is currently gathering a list of prospective witnesses who may attest in an oversight hearing by the end of January. 

The Committee on Energy and Commerce is a powerful House panel that has been around for ages. It has jurisdiction over many different types of issues, including environmental-related affairs such as energy or healthcare-related topics. 

It is worth mentioning that Proof-of-Work is the consensus algorithm used by the top cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It can only be run with special hardware that validates new transactions on the network; this makes mining highly carbon emissions a heavy activity linked to global warming. 

A source included in pre-hearing discussions in the subcommittee confirmed that the House Energy and Commerce Committee was bothered about the environmental impacts emerging from “recent events in New York State,” pointing to the sudden rise of Bitcoin mining in the US state. 

Following China’s blanket ban on crypto in September of 2021, numerous large mining companies transferred operations to US states such as New York and Texas with their low-cost electricity rates being an attractive selling point for new investors looking into cryptocurrency mining sites around America’s heartland. 

The United States has clearly been a hotbed for cryptocurrency mining. The growth in US-based crypto mining helped make America the largest contributor to Bitcoin’s global hashrate last October 2021. 

Be that as it may, a few environmentalists and politicians have expressed their concerns in connection with the environmental influence that the mining industries left behind. 

A joint letter to the US Congress has been sent by 70 activist groups in October of 2021, appealing to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many others to take measures into alleviating the cryptocurrency climate change effects. 

The recent comments from prominent politicians show that the subject of cryptocurrency regulation is becoming more partisan. Republican Senators Pat Toomey and Cynthia Lummis, to name a few, have supported Bitcoin on record. On the other hand, a few of the Democratic Senators such as Elizabeth Warren have actively spoken against Bitcoin for its immoderate energy consumption.

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