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Emmer says emergency bitcoin miner survey order was an abuse of power 

source-logo  blockworks.co 22 February 2024 22:35, UTC

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is pushing back against a recently-approved emergency request that would collect data from bitcoin mining operations in the United States.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last month greenlighted the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) request for emergency clearance to conduct a mandatory survey on the location of and energy usage patterns of bitcoin mining operations across the country.

“The OMB’s emergency approval authority is to be utilized when there is an imminent threat to public safety, and I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the OMB’s usage of these authorities in this instance, as bitcoin miners do not present a threat to public safety,” Emmer wrote in a letter to the OMB Tuesday.

The EIA currently estimates that in 2023 bitcoin mining used between 0.2% and 0.9% of global demand for electricity. In the US, the agency believes bitcoin mining “probably represents” between 0.6% and 2.3%” of consumption.

“This additional electricity use has drawn the attention of policymakers and grid planners concerned about its effects on cost, reliability and emissions,” the EIA wrote earlier this month.

“Key challenges associated with tracking cryptocurrency mining energy use include the difficulty of identifying cryptocurrency mining activity among millions of US end-use customers and the dynamic nature of the crypto market, where mining assets can be moved rapidly to areas with lower electricity prices,” the agency added.

The EIA has identified 137 bitcoin mining facilities across 21 states, with the highest concentrations in Texas, Georgia and New York. Operations contacted by the agency “are required to respond with details related to their energy use.”

“The filing does not mention crypto mining’s unique ability to curtail load during peak hours or inclement weather,” Emmer said.

Emmer is requesting the OMB explain why the agency opted for an emergency authorization versus “normal clearance procedures.” The Representative also wants to know if the agency will seek criminal charges against companies who refuse to respond to the survey request.

The EIA said earlier this month it will start collecting data immediately and expects to share preliminary results by the middle of this year.