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Bitcoin Miners Win Legal Battle Against US Government

Energy agency halts data collection on crypto mining after lawsuit by industry group and Riot Platforms

by Victor Adetimilehin

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to temporarily suspend its emergency survey of the energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining operations, following a legal challenge from an industry group and a leading bitcoin miner.

The DOE’s statistical arm, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), announced on Friday that it would stop its mandatory survey for a month and keep the data it had already received confidential, pending further review.

The EIA had started collecting information from bitcoin miners on Feb. 5, saying it needed to assess the potential impact of their increased power demand on the reliability of the national grid.

The mining industry fights back

However, the Texas Blockchain Council and Riot Platforms, one of the largest bitcoin mining companies in the US, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday, seeking to block the survey.

They argued that the EIA’s data request was based on “speculation and conjecture” that bitcoin mining posed a threat to the power grid, and violated federal laws that require public notice and comment before imposing new information collection requirements.

They also claimed that bitcoin mining could actually improve grid reliability, as miners can quickly reduce their power consumption during peak demand periods or emergencies, helping to prevent blackouts.

“This is a case about sloppy government process, contrived and self-inflicted urgency, and invasive government data collection,” the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit.

Bitcoin mining and environmental concerns

Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new units of the digital currency by solving complex mathematical problems using specialized computers that consume large amounts of electricity.

According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, bitcoin mining consumed about 137.68 terawatt-hours of electricity per year in 2024, more than the annual energy consumption of countries such as Sweden or Argentina.

The environmental impact of bitcoin mining has been a source of controversy and criticism, as some experts warn that it contributes to global warming and carbon emissions.

However, some bitcoin miners and advocates say that they use renewable or surplus energy sources, such as hydroelectric, solar or wind power, or capture the waste gas from oil and gas wells, to power their operations.

According to a report by CoinShares, a digital asset research firm, about 54.5% of bitcoin mining energy came from sustainable sources in 2024, making it the only major global industry that is mostly powered by green energy.

What’s next for bitcoin miners?

The EIA said it would review its survey methodology and consult with stakeholders before resuming its data collection. It also said it would not use or disclose any of the information it had already obtained from bitcoin miners until further notice.

The plaintiffs welcomed the government’s decision, but said it was not enough to address their concerns. They said they would continue to pursue their lawsuit until the EIA withdraws its survey completely or complies with the proper legal procedures.

Meanwhile, bitcoin miners are enjoying a surge in revenue and profitability, as the price of the cryptocurrency reached new highs in 2024, trading above $60,000 per coin.

According to data from Blockchain.com, bitcoin miners earned over $44 million per day in November 2024, the highest level ever recorded.

Despite the legal and environmental challenges, bitcoin mining is expected to grow further in the US, as more investors, companies and institutions embrace the digital currency as a store of value and a medium of exchange.

Source: Reuters 


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