Members of the Bitcoin community have co-authored a response to a recent call from House Democrats seeking additional environmental scrutiny for crypto mining.
Like the representatives' letter, the letter from the crypto community is addressed to Michael S. Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Certain members of Congress sent a letter to the EPA premised on several misperceptions about Bitcoin mining,” tweeted Bitcoin bull and Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor. “We have authored a response to clear up the confusion, correct inaccuracies, and educate the public.”
Block (formerly Square) CEO and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Galaxy Digital CEO Michael Novogratz, Grayscale Investments CEO Michael Sonnenshein, and SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci were among the co-signers on Saylor's letter.
The document outlines eight specific “misperceptions” initially highlighted in the April 20 letter from House Democrats.
The group's first point indicates that “there is a difference between a data center and a power generation facility,” and that this distinction was not made clear in the initial letter to the EPA.
The second point the group highlights is that “Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever,” stating that any “associated emissions are a function of electricity generation, which is a consequence of policy choices and economic realities shaping the nature of the electrical grid.”
The third point touches on the recent decision to deny crypto miners Greenidge and Ameren an extension to their operating permits. The letter explains that the reason for this denial “deals with the energy generation facility NOT the data center, containing the digital asset miners.”
The coalition's fourth contention refers to House Democrats’ claim that fossil fuel-based facilities are being reopened to support crypto mining. The group said quite the opposite is occurring, adding that “the trend is towards renewable [energy] generation.”
The fifth point has been a popular topic among legislators, critics, and crypto enthusiasts alike, given how often it makes headlines.
The letter to the EPA equated a single Bitcoin transaction to using the same amount of energy as an average American household for a month. Though this equivalent is technically true, using this turn of phrase infers that Bitcoin can be “redeemed” for energy (i.e., one Bitcoin transaction could quite literally power a house for a month).
Instead, notes Saylor's letter, “It is the high price of Bitcoin combined with its yearly new issuance (328k BTC this year) which induces miners to consume energy.”
The representatives' letter to the EPA also noted that alternative mining mechanisms like Proof of Stake (PoS) have “99.99 percent lower energy demands” than proof-of-work (PoW) networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The coalition responded by saying that comparing these two mechanisms is “qualitatively different” because they do “not achieve the same thing.”
“A bicycle uses less energy than a plane, but it achieves something different, and so cannot be considered more efficient,” the letter reads.
The seventh point in the crypto group's response highlights electronic waste and how much mining creates. Electronic waste refers to physical components of the computing industry, be it hard drives, iPhones, or crypto miners that eventually wear out.
The lawmakers' letter to the EPA claims that “Bitcoin mining alone produces almost 30,700 tons of electronic waste every year.”
This figure, the crypto proponents argued, comes from an old research paper and “the claim that Bitcoin miners produce enormous quantities of e-waste is a purely academic fantasy.”
Finally, the crypto response to the original letter again explains a clear difference between a power-generating facility and a data mining center. “Power generation can be used to power any industry,” the letter reads, and “the content or type of computational workloads should be irrelevant,” assuming that a data center abides by all laws and regulations.
For some, many of these points come as no surprise. Cryptocurrencies, specifically those relying on PoW-based mining, have long faced stiff pushback from environmentalists.
The key difference now, though, is that this conversation is no longer occurring exclusively online.