Crypto Mining: Environmental Debate in the United States: The Dark Side of Bitcoin Mining | news

Debate on environmental damage caused by mining in the United States
• US Democrats against prominent representatives of the crypto industry
Incomplete data and hardened fronts

The debate about the environmental damage of bitcoin is ringing. Both opponents and supporters of bitcoin mining have sent open letters to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).


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US Democrats see progress in climate policy threatened

“As cryptocurrencies gain popularity, it is important to understand the environmental risks and pollution associated with this industry,” Democratic congressional officials wrote in the letter.

The American Democrats’ claims against Bitcoin mining in the “Proof of Work” procedure are still serious: Energy consumption is equivalent to Greece’s, huge amounts of electronic waste are produced, and air and water are polluted by coal-fired power plants. In addition, there would be noise pollution near the major mines.

“Cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our society,” the letter reads. Because there are efforts to revive gas and coal-fired power plants that are already closed to meet the crypto-industry’s exorbitant energy needs. The Democratic members of Congress refer to various international studies and call for switching to the “Proof of Stake” process, which would reduce energy consumption by 99 percent. They argue for cryptocurrencies that do not require mining, such as Algorand.

Bitcoin advocates respond with their own inquiries and do not accept the criticism

Michael Saylor, as one of the most well-known Bitcoin enthusiasts, referred to the reply letter via Twitter, in which misrepresentations and misunderstandings were corrected, and which served to inform the public about Bitcoin. Prominent representatives of the mining industry reject the influence of the state.

The group around MicroStrategy CEO is trying to refute the arguments of the American Democrats using surveys and statistics. The mine farms are not power plants, but data centers like those run by Amazon, Apple, Google or Meta. This makes the difference, the miners would only buy the electricity and are not responsible for the emissions generated during electricity production.

In addition, the miners extract a large portion of their electricity from renewable energy and would also make their server power available for calculations in numerous other industries, from film and weather to medical technology. “The demonization of digital goods miners deters this large indigenous industry that seeks lost energy resources and builds industrial powerhouses in remote areas,” writes the crypto-industry celebrities about the use of energy. They simply reject the accusation that lots of e-waste would accumulate in the data centers, as untrue.

Data situation, comparability and environmental impacts

The inconsistent data situation makes it extremely difficult to assess the environmental damage of cryptocurrencies in the “Proof of Work” procedure. Several miners in the United States are opposed to the publication of the data, in part because the data was not collected in the first place. In an interview with the Cointelegraph, Kristian Csepcsar, chief marketing officer at Slush Pool, the oldest mining network in the United States, expressed skepticism about renewable energy, especially solar energy. Regarding the collection of data on what energy sources the miners use, he said: “We do not want to see it as a pool operator. To get these figures we would have to KYC-certify our miners, conduct audits of their operations or even transactions [für Analysen] filter. That is not the ethos we want to maintain. “

The problem can be clearly seen from the example of the estimated annual energy consumption. “Block Builders” compared three studies of energy consumption for mining cryptocurrencies in 2021 and showed how differently this is assessed: In its “Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index”, the University of Cambridge estimates the annual energy consumption at 143.67 TWH compared to “Digiconomist” ” with 97.26 TWh and Dan Held & Ark Investment with 50.8 TWH is massively below.

The fact that the estimates of energy consumption in the industry differ so fundamentally shows how comparisons with other industries or the impact on the environment basically go in different directions by means of data selection. In fact, recent studies show that the use of renewable energy in the United States plays a role in the overall hash rate, especially after the ban in China.

It is clear that energy consumption and sources of supply play a crucial role. However, there is more speculation than evidence. The data here is still uneven. The EPA has not yet commented on the introductory letter from mining opponents or the response from mining industry representatives. The fronts are hardened, Bitcoin recently fell well below the $ 30,000 mark. The Biden administration announced draft legislation on cryptocurrency regulation by the end of this year.


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