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White House report examines the impact of crypto mining on climate change

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(Kitco News) - The White House has released a new report that is encouraging U.S. policymakers to consider legal limitations or outright restrictions on cryptocurrency mining in an effort to reduce the industry’s environmental impact.  

The report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking a broad policy push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has zeroed in on the crypto mining industry, which has seen significant growth in the U.S. over the past two years. 

President Biden’s crypto executive order in March led to the creation of the report, which is seeking to propose standards that focus on the use of clean energy, low water and low energy intensities. 

According to the document, regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency “should provide technical assistance and initiate a collaborative process with states, communities, the crypto-asset industry, and others to develop effective, evidence-based environmental performance standards for the responsible design, development, and use of environmentally responsible crypto-asset technologies.”

Proof-of-work (PoW) cryptos like Bitcoin were specifically targeted due to their energy-intensive nature, with the reports recommending an outright ban of such protocols if the measures taken fail to reduce environmental impacts. 

“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,” the report said. 

The White House cited its goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as motivation for the changes as it looks to see a notable reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the coming years and decades. 

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Overall, the report provided a list of recommendations designed to “ensure the responsible development of digital assets.” 

The guidance provided calls for – minimizing GHG emissions, environmental justice impacts, and other local impacts from crypto-assets; Ensuring energy reliability; Obtaining data to understand, monitor, and mitigate impacts; Advancing energy efficiency standards; Encouraging transparency and improvement in environmental performance; Further research to improve understanding and innovation. 

According to the report, the goal of these recommendations is to “resolve data gaps, manage electricity demand, reduce GHG emissions, reduce electronic waste and pollution, support a clean energy transition that equitably benefits communities across the country, and address longstanding concerns of overburdened and underserved communities.” 

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