Republicans Seek to Counter Effort to Curtail Crypto Mining

The word of caution comes after Democrats warned a top environmental official in April about harms of digital assets mining.

AccessTimeIconJun 21, 2022 at 8:32 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 2:09 a.m. UTC

Republican lawmakers are trying to slam the brakes on any hasty decisions the Environmental Protection Agency may consider to address potential harm from cryptocurrency mining businesses, urging the regulator to study the claims before taking action.

More than a dozen Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee signed a letter last week to EPA chief Michael Regan that was meant to counter a message from Democrats sent in April. The Democrats – a list of progressives that includes Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who leads a subcommittee within the Natural Resources Committee – had warned about climate risks and called for more scrutiny, and the Republicans expressed more support for the industry.

Environmental regulators should seek “a comprehensive analysis as it relates to understanding the potential environmental effects of digital asset mining,” according to the letter, which was signed by Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), one of the authors of new legislation to regulate crypto, and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, along with three other senators and nine members of Congress. They insisted the U.S. government shouldn’t do anything to disrupt American leadership in the sector.

In the end, both camps are asking the EPA to look more closely, though their aims are far apart.

The Republican letter points out that “a substantial portion of digital asset miners’ energy use is based on renewable sources,” and that many of the mining operations “use other power sources, like natural gas, that may otherwise go unused.” And it argues that the feds have no right to pick the types of technology that should be granted favor.

That’s a jab at the Democrats, who contend that the government should note proof-of-stake mining technology as potentially having “99.99% lower energy demands” to validate transactions.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.