EPA Tackles Power Plant Crypto Miners• January 18, 2022 7:45 pm • Comments
The Environmental Protection Agency is starting to take some action in an effort to ensure that the utilization energy that is being used to mine cryptos like bitcoin is done in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
To provide some context, coal-fired power plants are still running today as energy sources and are typically not environmentally friendly as they produce toxic waste.
It was reported that they discovered two power plants that were being to power computers used to mine cryptocurrencies.
As a result of the discovery, the EPA is getting more involved to halt illegal cryptocurrency mining operations with a focus on those that will likely negatively impact the environment.
With that being said, the EPA does not have any relationship with the cryptocurrency industry as its primary focus is to just protect the environment.
On Jan. 11, the EPA denied a request by Greenidge’s Bitcoin Mining operation to continue using their coal ash pond for waste until 2023.https://t.co/mZK5ZJ27VO
— WETM-TV (@WETM18News) January 13, 2022
Mining for cryptocurrencies — like mining for any mineral commodity — requires a lot of energy.
To mine for bitcoins, high-powered computers, called rigs, are deployed to solve cryptographic puzzles that become increasingly difficult over time.
Solving a puzzle unlocks cryptocurrency, a transaction that is then recorded to a unified ledger known as a blockchain.
Such computing power demands immense amounts of energy, which has led to scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists concerned about the emissions associated with cryptocurrency worsening the warming of the planet.
A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will be holding a hearing on Thursday addressing the sector’s environmental impacts (E&E Daily, Jan. 18).
Supporters of the coal-to-crypto trend argue that, at a time when reliability is a growing concern, companies have found a profitable way to ensure that more reserve power is available to the grid in the event of disaster.
If deployed responsibly and sustainably, they say, funding operational power plants through mining cryptocurrency could be part of the future of electricity generation.
Although it is true that funding some of these plants through bitcoin mining can allow some power companies to be profitable, there are many including the EPA that disagree with this view.
Opponents to the view state that any plant that creates pollution for the sake of mining cryptocurrencies will ultimately by driven by profit and will not have the interests of the environment in mind.
Currently, the EPA is denying many of these coal powered plants’ requests to continue operating past a mandatory deadline which is estimated to be sometime in 2023.
The agency has stated that in order for power plants to be accepted for an extension to continue operating, more stringent criteria has to met.
It has made it clear that mass cryptocurrency mining operations have much more impact than just providing carbon emissions, but also include releasing waste to the environment.
As a result, there is a potential for the cryptocurrency industry to have clash of interests with the environmental protection industry sometime in the future.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it could not confirm that this was the agency’s first decision related to cryptocurrency mining.
The decisions on Greenidge and Ameren’s coal ash requests were part of a larger set of rulings from the agency regarding the cleanup schedule for coal ash ponds (GreenwireJanuary 11th).
It looks like a bitcoin miner has been operating a power plant and submitted a petition to dump coal ash in toxic waste sites. And EPA said no!
If a power plant isn't generating sufficient power for the public, EPA may not let them dump waste, meaning the plant can't operate.
— Todd Phillips (@tphillips) January 18, 2022
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