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Mining and Blockchain Energy Take Center Stage at Senate Talks

A recent discussion at the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources raised the burning issue of crypto mining once again, suggesting that lawmakers are keen to find a legislative balance.

This is unsurprising given recent attention being paid to cryptocurrency and blockchain by the US Senate. Past discussions in Senate bodies over the futures of cryptocurrencies have failed to be overly optimistic but there is a general feeling that the tone is changing. Earlier this year, SEC’s Jay Clayton said to a Senate hearing:

“As Chairman Giancarlo and I stated recently, we are open to exploring with Congress, as well as with our federal and state colleagues, whether increased federal regulation of cryptocurrency trading platforms is necessary or appropriate. We also are supportive of regulatory and policy efforts to bring clarity and fairness to this space.”

This latest hearing which examined aspects of crypto mining were seen as positive, and certainly lacked the hostility of many discussions in the past.

The chairman of the Committee, Sen Lisa Murkowski started on a positive note by looking at advantages that may be offered by blockchain to securing the nations energy infrastructure, given that many utilities had expressed concerns about strains on the energy grid through an increase of crypto mining. This concern, along with those of users in some areas regarding the possibility of hiked energy prices, was addressed by the committee.

On this subject, Thomas Golden representing the Electric Power Research Institute suggested there needs to be more discussion between utility companies and their customers over this question. Claire Henly, managing director of the Energy Web Foundation agreed that “Bitcoin’s energy use is a substantial concern and we know that Bitcoin’s energy use will prevent it from being able to scale”.

She suggested that one possible answer would be to make proof-of-stake and proof-of-authority algorithms far more energy efficient which may add feasible alternatives to scaling a blockchain without requiring large amounts of power.

Not only is it important for the future that sensible discussion at the top level takes place between legislators and all parties on the future of crypto mining in the US, but also to find viable alternatives to make current systems more agreeable for both mining companies and regular consumers.

Another possible development from the discussion were the senators’ views on how blockchain might be used to enhancing the energy sector, including shipping, security and expanding existing tech.

 

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