In a new report, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy urged the U.S. government to continue research into the energy impacts of crypto mining to establish industry standards.This report is the first public reaction to President Joe Biden’s executive orders on crypto. It also calls for energy-saving standards.
The report is one of the first publicly available responses by the U.S. President Joe Biden to his executive order regarding cryptocurrencies. It details the office’s approach to the question of how crypto mining affects the environment. This includes the extent of the impact and the energy requirements of different cryptocurrencies.
Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy are urged to collaborate with local officials and states to establish standards for the industry’s impact on the environment, including the intensity and source of the energy used, noise pollution, water use, and how to create carbon-free energy in order to offset the consumption of crypto mining.
The report stated that “Should these measures fail to reduce impacts, the Administration should consider executive actions and Congress might consider legislation to limit or abolish the use high-energy intensity consensus mechanisms for crypto asset mining.”
According to the report, crypto mining, especially bitcoin mining, consumes a lot of electricity, which is detrimental to US sustainability goals.
The report stated that “Global electricity generation for crypto-assets having the highest market capitalizations resulted (Mt CO2/y) in 140+- 30 million metric tons carbon dioxide per annum (or about 0.3% of global annual GHG emission).
Grid stability needs to be protected
The White House wants grid operators and energy regulators to ensure that crypto mining does not threaten the stability of electricity grids or drive up consumer prices. On the other hand, Bitcoin miners argue that they can help improve the reliability of electricity grids. They can act as a base load consumer and can power off during times of peak demand (such as this summer’s heatwaves in the U.S. and Texas ).
The White House responded to this argument by saying: “While reducing the peak during a grid crisis is valuable, the higher peak is often why demand respond is necessary. Creating misaligned incentives among grid operators and crypto-asset miners is a bad idea. It is essential to have full transparency about demand response participation and payments made by crypto-asset miner and other demand response participants.
The White House also wants better data about the industry’s use of clean energy. It points out that miners who don’t emit carbon-emitting electricity do not contribute to reducing emissions. The report stated that there is “uncertainty” about how much clean energy this industry uses. Better data will help to dispel this uncertainty.
Methane gas usage for crypto mining was supported by the White House
The White House report supported crypto miners using flared and vented methane for their operations, but it was cautious. This method has been popularized by mining companies deploying data centers at natural-gas extraction sites.
The report stated that the EPA and the Department of the Interior had proposed new rules to reduce methane in oil and natural gas operations. However, crypto-asset mining operations which capture vented methane and produce electricity can have positive effects on the climate by converting the methane into CO2 during combustion. However, mining operations could be more reliable and efficient in converting methane into CO2 than they are now.
The report said that vapor capture technology may be more effective in reducing methane emission.
The report found that net-zero emissions would not have any methane flaring or venting, but that “crypto-asset mining” that uses vented methane for electricity generation is more likely than not to hinder U.S. climate goals.
The White House has established which miners are responsible for zero direct emissions. These include those who build or buy new renewable energy capacity and those who consume renewable energy that would otherwise go to waste-of which there is plenty in America.
The report stated that to help the United States achieve its climate goals, the report suggested that industries could be required or volunteered to build zero-carbon power plants. These capacity will produce more electricity than the crypto asset mine needs, and then sell the excess energy back to the grid.
The executive order has produced two other reports, one on the environmental issue and one on the other. The Treasury Department issued a July fact sheet that described how the U.S. could collaborate with foreign regulators in order to deal with the cryptocurrency sector. The Justice Department offered another suggestion. It suggested that the U.S. share more information on cryptocurrency-related crimes and strengthen its overseas partnerships to combat them.