Democratic lawmakers want the Energy Department (DoE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct deeper oversight into the environmental impacts of digital currency mining, with a particular focus on the energy consumption and emissions volume.

In a letter addressed to DoE Secretary Jennifer Granholm and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Democratic lawmakers offered new insight into the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining – from a recent investigation led by lawmakers.

The investigation uncovered that cryptominers are large energy users that account for a significant and rapidly growing amount of carbon emissions. According to lawmakers, this suggests that the overall U.S. cryptomining industry is likely to be problematic for energy and emissions.

“Despite these adverse impacts from cryptomining, state and Federal regulators currently know little about the scope of the problem,” noted the letter, which was signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

“Given these concerns, [your agencies] must work together to address the lack of information about cryptomining’s energy use and environmental impacts and use all available authorities at your disposal … to require reporting of energy use and emissions from cryptominers,” the letter continues.

In their investigation, lawmakers wrote to seven of the largest cryptomining operations in the United States seeking information regarding this issue.

While the companies didn’t provide complete information in response to the questions, the information they did provide reveals that these companies’ mining operations are “significant and growing, have a major impact on climate change and that Federal intervention is necessary,” lawmakers wrote.

Lawmakers explained that the information gathered by the DoE and EPA collectively would enable public policy activities – such as better monitoring of energy use and trends, better evidence basis for policy-making, improved data for national mitigation analyses, better abilities for evaluating technology policies for the sector, and better modeling of national and regional grid loads and transitions.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.