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May 9, 2022

Groups Around U.S. Urge Biden Administration to Address Cryptocurrency Mining’s Energy, Climate, and Environmental Impacts

Regulation of proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining needed to mitigate climate risk

Contacts

Miranda Fox, Earthjustice, (415) 283-2324

Washington, D.C.

On Monday, over 50 community groups around the country submitted comments to the Biden administration to address the harmful impacts of “proof-of-work” cryptocurrency mining in their localities. In addition to comments submitted outlining state-specific concerns by groups in New York, Pennsylvania, Montana, Kentucky, and Texas, Earthjustice supported other national public interest groups in calling for federal agencies to study the climate and energy impacts of proof-of-work mining.

The Biden administration will study an array of issues connected to the “Responsible Development of Digital Assets” in its March 2022 Executive Order. A central issue raised by all groups is scrutiny of the energy consumed by digital currencies relying upon proof-of-work to validate transactions, which undermines efforts to reduce climate and local pollution. Earthjustice joins the call for regulatory efforts to curb the electricity use and pollution associated with digital currencies that rely on proof-of-work.

On Tuesday, May 10, residents and advocates from across the country will speak out against climate-killing cryptomining. Here's more information on their press conference. 

"Bitcoin miners are eager to take advantage of subsidies and lax regulation in Pennsylvania. Power plants burning highly polluting waste coal have been turned into mining operations, portable generators and mining hardware have shown up unannounced at fracked-gas well sites, and even nuclear power plants are installing miners. Not only are taxpayers and ratepayers paying the price, we all pay the price of increased pollution." – Rob Altenburg for PennFuture, Pennsylvania

"During the 2021 legislative session in Kentucky, lawmakers passed significant incentives for capital investment and tax breaks to attract these crypto companies, yet the benefits to the communities they serve are not seeing huge numbers of jobs, and the environmental impact is significant." – Lane Boldman for Kentucky Conservation Committee, Kentucky

"Communities like mine near the Greenidge facility in the Finger Lakes of New York are being harmed as a once shuttered fossil fuel plant has reopened, mainly using the power generated to mine Bitcoin. It's jeopardizing our health, our air, our water, and hurting our thriving agriculture and tourism economy. This is an extremely urgent issue at a time when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that it is now or never to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the most dire consequences of climate change. We must not let this industry set us back, despite the millions of dollars they're investing to remain unregulated. We are urging the Biden administration to take swift action and adopt policies that take a hard and fast approach to this energy-intensive industry." – Abi Buddington for Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, New York

"The energy needs of this largely unregulated industry poses a serious threat to local, state, and federal climate goals. It’s time for the federal government to step in and add some sideboards to ensure that Montanans don’t face higher energy bills and increased climate impacts from a shadowy industry with an insatiable appetite for electricity." – Anne Hedges for Montana Environmental Information Center, Montana

"Cryptocurrency mining draws massive amounts of electricity that will further tax the questionable Texas electrical grid, will produce still more air emissions that contribute to climate change, and will increase electricity rates for area residents." –James Klein for Coastal Bend Sierra Club Chapter, Texas

"Our grid is being held hostage in Texas. We are being extorted to pay these grifters to shut down their unnecessary mining after they intentionally raise the price of electricity and undermine our democracy. All the while making climate change worse. Here in Corpus Christi our elected officials hid AEP seeking a rate increase even as they approved adding 600 megawatts to our grid ignoring the concerns of community members." – Chris Phelan for For The Greater Good, Texas

"Politicians have been gambling on the Texas grid for years. When it finally failed, millions of Texas froze inside their own homes. Crypto is just the latest bad bet, and politicians like Ted Cruz have bought in. But crypto mining offers nothing to our grid but a huge new source of demand. We need tangible grid solutions like battery storage and weatherization to reduce demand. Crypto offers none of this. The industry’s value to our grid is about as real as the product it sells." – Adrian Shelley for Public Citizen, Texas

"In the Finger Lakes and across New York, outside speculators are invading our communities to destroy our natural resources, kneecap local businesses, and keep us from meeting crucial climate goals, just to make a few people very, very rich. While we wait for Governor Hochul to enact sane energy policy and put a moratorium on climate-killing cryptomining, the federal government must step in and regulate this dangerous and growing industry. Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane." – Yvonne Taylor for Seneca Lake Guardian, New York

"We cannot waste more precious time playing whack-a-mole at the local and state level. We implore the federal government to take immediate steps to address the bitcoin mining explosion wreaking havoc on our climate policies, polluting our communities, ravaging our energy supply and escalating electricity rates in the middle of a climate crisis." – Ellen Weininger for Grassroots Environmental Education, New York

"Unfortunately, as with most fossil fuel industry operations, the impacts to local communities and to the climate are not front and center, as they should be. We support our clients and partners to protect their communities and the planet." - Mandy DeRoche, Deputy Managing Attorney for Earthjustice 

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.