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Oct 14, 2022

Change the Code, Not the Climate’s Campaign to Clean Up Bitcoin Gets Boost from Lawmakers Led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

For immediate release: October 14, 2022

Contact: Ira Arlook, iarlook@gmail.com

Change the Code, Not the Climate’s Campaign to Clean Up Bitcoin Gets Boost from Lawmakers Led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Congressional Group Presses Texas Grid Operator on Bitcoin Mining Impact on the state’s fragile power grid and climate 

Michael Brune, director of the Change the Code, Not the Climate campaign, applauded Sen. Warren, and her colleagues for pressing ERCOT’s CEO on the worrisome implications for the state’s electricity grid and what it means for the climate crisis. The campaign seeks to force changes that will slash bitcoin mining’s energy and environmental damage.

A group of eight U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is demanding Texas’ top electricity reliability official explain how the state’s rapidly growing Bitcoin mining industry might harm its fragile power grid and the climate.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Pablo Vegas, the CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the lawmakers ask to get data no later than October 31 on the electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions of Bitcoin mining dating back more than five years.

They also want details on how the growing Bitcoin mining industry’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel generated power will affect Texas ratepayers’ monthly bills.

The lawmakers are seeking more information about financial subsidies ERCOT has provided to miners as an incentive to bring their energy-sucking computer arrays to the state with famously lax regulations on energy production and consumption.

“Sen. Warren and the other lawmakers should be applauded for their pursuit of critical details surrounding this unchecked industry and its impacts on Texans’ energy bills, the climate crisis and the state’s already shaky electric grid,” said Brune. “While other cryptocurrencies are switching to code protocols that use far less energy, Bitcoin miners and investors are clinging to the old, dirty fossil fuel intensive electricity sources that also negatively impact local communities living near the mining rigs.” 

In an April forecast, ERCOT predicted that by mid-2023, cryptocurrency miners would consume enough of the state’s electricity to power every home in Houston. 

In mid-July, as record temperatures put the state’s fragile electricity grid at risk of major blackouts, ERCOT urged virtually all Bitcoin mining to shut down during periods of peak electricity demand in a bid to protect the grid, reported Bloomberg News.

In September, Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, dramatically cut its climate pollution. Ethereum’s long-awaited “merge” to a proof of stake consensus mechanism uses 99.95 percent less energy, leaving Bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency using the outmoded high-energy proof of work consensus mechanism.

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About Change the Code, Not the Climate

Change the Code, Not the Climate is a campaign launched by the Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace USA, and several local organizations to push bitcoin, its miners, and investors to support a change in software code that can shed the intensive use of and reliance on dirty sources of electricity.