US Dept. of Energy Scraps Emergency Survey of Bitcoin Miners, Opting for Public Input Instead

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) have scrapped their controversial emergency survey of Bitcoin miners after facing a lot of resistance, resulting in legal challenges. Here is a closer look at the developing situation, with a glimpse into the motivations behind the survey, the concerns raised by miners, and what the path forward for data collection could be.

Emergency Survey Cancelled

Earlier this year, in January 2024, the EIA requested permission from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to bypass standard procedures and conduct an emergency survey of Bitcoin miners. This survey was done after concerns over excessive energy usage by Bitcoin Miners and aimed to gather data on their energy consumption, possibly including sensitive information. The EIA argued that collecting this data quickly was necessary to prevent any harm to the electric grid.

However, this approach was met with legal opposition. The Texas Blockchain Council and Riot Platforms, a publicly traded Bitcoin mining company, filed a lawsuit against the DOE and EIA. They argued that the agencies failed to establish the urgency needed to bypass the standard process, which involves soliciting public comments for 60 days.

Following the lawsuit, the DOE and EIA agreed to withdraw the emergency survey and destroy any data collected thus far. This decision is a clear indication that the legal challenge played a significant role in stopping the survey.

Concerns from the Industry

The lawsuit highlighted several concerns raised by the Bitcoin mining industry. One argument focused on the lack of transparency and justification for the emergency survey. Additionally, miners expressed concerns about the possibility of the survey to collect sensitive business information.

Furthermore, the industry countered the claims made by the EIA, arguing that their data processing centers actually improve grid reliability by being able to shut down operations during periods of high demand quickly. This point is in contradiction with the claim about miners posing a threat to the grid.

Moving Forward- An Open Discussion

Instead of the emergency survey, the DOE and EIA have agreed to follow the standard process for data collection. They will publish a notice that outlines their proposed miner survey in the Federal Register and allow for a 60-day public comment period. This approach ensures transparency and allows for public input from interested parties, including Bitcoin miners and citizens.

The outcome of this comment period remains to be seen. The EIA may choose to modify or completely abandon the survey based on the feedback received. It is also possible that the agency will pursue a revised version of the survey after addressing the concerns raised during the comment period.

Final Thoughts

The cancellation of the emergency survey and the move towards a more open process represent a shift in the approach to data collection regarding the Bitcoin mining industry. While the issue of energy consumption by miners remains relevant, the focus has now shifted to gathering information through a transparent and inclusive process that allows for public participation.

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