The Biden Administration is imposing new reporting requirements on all U.S. cryptocurrency miners to disclose data related to how much electricity they consume.
The so-called “Emergency Survey” marks another attempt by the U.S. government to curb the negative excesses of Bitcoin mining, which Democrats have widely criticized for polluting the environment.
The Emergency Bitcoin Mining Survey
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) will begin its survey next week, questioning mining firms on how many mining facilities they own, where they operate, and whether they interact with cryptocurrencies using a proof of work (POW) or proof of stake (POS) consensus mechanism.
“We will specifically focus on how the energy demand for cryptocurrency mining is evolving, identify geographic areas of high growth, and quantify the sources of electricity used to meet cryptocurrency mining demand,” read a statement from EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis on Wednesday.
Miners must submit monthly data and may incur “criminal fines, civil penalties, and other sanctions” by failing to do so.
According to the EIA’s official filing, the survey request needed to be processed on an emergency basis “because public harm is reasonably likely if normal clearance procedures are followed.”
As evidence, the EIA cited Bitcoin’s 50% price surge in the last three months as proof that the mining industry could scale drastically in short order.
“Higher prices incentivize more crypto mining activity, which in turn increases electricity consumption,” the EIA stated.
It also cited the major “cold snap” gripping the United States, at the moment, driving up electricity demand and placing more stress on electrical grids. The combined effects of Bitcoin mining and stressed electrical systems “could result in demand peaks that affect system operations and consumer prices,” the agency wrote.
Addressing Bitcoin’s Energy Concerns
Regions like Texas have previously worked around this issue by establishing a demand response program with the mining industry. The program requires that miners turn off their machines during high-stress periods for the electrical grid while subsidizing those miners during their off-time.
Regarding environmental issues, previous surveys and analyses have estimated that Bitcoin’s green energy mix is over 50%, making it one of the most sustainably powered industries on Earth.
The Biden administration previously tried imposing a 30% tax on Bitcoin miners to discourage environmental harm, but was unsuccessful.