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Elizabeth Warren Demands Data on Texas Crypto Mining

Senator Elizabeth Warren wants data on electrical grid stability, emissions, and subsidies.

Elizabeth Warren Demands Data on Texas Crypto Mining
Shutterstock cover by David Garcia

Key Takeaways

  • Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats have demanded information about the impact of mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the state's power grid.
  • A letter from Warren demands information on carbon emissions, subsidies, and electrical grid stability.
  • The letter is addressed to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state's electrical grid.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren has demanded details on the energy consumption of crypto mining companies in Texas.

Democrats Demand Data

Democrats are demanding mining crypto data.

A letter from Elizabeth Warren and seven other government members published on October 12 demands financial and operational information about crypto mining in Texas.

The letter is addressed to Pablo Vegas, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which is responsible for operating Texas’ independent electrical grid.

Specifically, the letter demands information related to the effect of Bitcoin mining on climate change, carbon emissions, and the stability of Texas’ energy grid.

It also asks for details on subsidies that ERCOT may have provided to mining firms. ERCOT offers curtailing agreements, meaning it pays companies to reduce electrical usage during peak demand. One mining firm, Riot Blockchain, made $9.5 million from subsidies in July 2022 but made only $5.6 million from selling Bitcoin that month.

Warren’s letter suggests that crypto mining firms have entered Texas en masse due to the state’s inexpensive power and relaxed regulation, raising concerns about stress on the Texas power grid and an unreliable power market.

The letter estimates that Texas is responsible for one-quarter of all U.S. Bitcoin mining. Large miners are currently using 2 gigawatts of energy, “enough to power all the residences in the city of Houston twice over,” the letter says. It warns that Bitcoin mining could produce additional demand of 5 or 6 gigawatts in the next 12 to 15 months.

In addition to senator Elizabeth Warren, senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Edward J. Markey also signed the letter. Members of Congress Katie Porter, Jared Huffman, Al Green, and Rashida Tlaib signed the letter as well. All of those individuals are members of the U.S. Democratic party.

Warren has historically been critical of cryptocurrency and has made harsh statements about the technology, comparing it to drugs and snake oil last year.

In July 2021, she began to criticize Bitcoin’s energy usage. This year, she has urged at least two government agencies to regulate cryptocurrency mining more aggresively.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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