The White House has proposed that the crypto mining industry have some standards to mitigate its environmental effects.
In a report titled Climate and Energy Implications of Crypto-assets in the United States, the White House called for standards like miners using clean energy and the need for low energy intensities.
The report is a result of President Biden’s executive order on crypto earlier this year. It was spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
Crypto mining standards
The report focuses primarily on establishing standards for crypto miners and recommends several measures to limit the energy consumption of proof-of-work mining.
It also emphasized minimizing other noise, emissions, and water impacts. It recommended technical assistance from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Meanwhile, the report took it a step further by recommending a possible limit or ban on crypto mining if the measures don’t prevent the negative impacts of crypto mining.
“Should these measures prove ineffective at reducing impacts, the Administration should explore executive actions, and Congress might consider legislation to limit or eliminate the use of high energy intensity consensus mechanisms for crypto-asset mining.”
Although the report does not mention proof of work mining, it refers to high-energy intensity consensus mechanisms.
The report also highlighted the high energy consumption of crypto mining, saying that the energy generation for the major crypto assets is a:
“Combined 140 ± 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (Mt CO2/y), or about 0.3% of global annual GHG emissions.”
Besides regulating crypto mining for environmental purposes, the White House also wants electricity grid operators to ensure crypto mining doesn’t affect grid stability.
Crypto miners innovation
The report acknowledges innovations on the part of miners. It mentioned miners that use flared and vented methane for their machines and how this is positive for the climate.
Additionally, it called for the mining industry to provide better data showing its use of clean energy and said miners “could volunteer or be required to build zero-carbon energy capacity that produces more electricity” than their crypto-mining facility requires.
Is crypto mining harmful to the environment?
However, the report might have placed overemphasized the impact of crypto mining on the environment.
In reality, crypto mining is responsible only for a tiny fraction of global emissions. Most major corporations use much more energy than Bitcoin (BTC).
For example, several reports have shown that Amazon significantly underreports its carbon emissions by only calculating emissions of about 1% of the products it sells online.
Even with that, it emitted 71.54 million metric tons last year. Besides, other financial assets like Gold and fiat currencies are even bigger contributors to emission levels.