Former US Treasury Comptroller Brian Brooks is set to testify at a House hearing on the energy impact of mining

As the US Congress prepares to scrutinize the energy use of crypto mining, the witness list for lThursday’s hearing contains more supporters of blockchain technology than its outspoken critics.

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee announced a hearing on “Cryptocurrency Cleanup: The Energy Impacts of Blockchains” last week, with the event itself scheduled for Jan. 20. The focus of the hearing is on the energy and environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining, particularly in relation to networks using a proof-of-work or PoW consensus mechanism.

A memorandum released Jan. 17 by the Energy and Trade Committee staffers revealed the list of witnesses called to testify. Of the five experts on the list, only one, Cornell Tech professor Ari Juels, can be definitively classified as an outspoken critic of Bitcoin (BTC) mining in its current form. Ironically, Juels is one of two authors of a 1999 paper that defined and introduced the term proof-of-work.

Former US Treasury Comptroller Brian Brooks is set to testify at a House hearing on the energy impact of mining
Former US Treasury Comptroller Brian Brooks is set to testify at a House hearing on the energy impact of mining

Another witness on the witness list is Brian Brooks, former US Currency Comptroller and CEO of Binance.US, who joined BitFury, a major player in the crypto mining industry, as a director in November 2021. Also of note is the presence of John Belizaire, CEO of Soluna Computing, a company focused on developing green data centers for batch computing. In a January 6 blog post Belizaire praised Bitcoin’s energy use as a “feature, not a flaw,” arguing that it provides a viable mechanism for absorbing excess renewable energy.

Representing the utilities is Steve Wright, recently retired former general manager of Washington State’s Chelan County Public Utility District. During his tenure, Wright took steps to attract cryptocurrency miners to the county.

Gregory Zerzan, a shareholder in Jordan Ramis and a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, once remarked that “going away from fossil fuels” could allay concerns about bitcoin mining.

The memo itself provides a fairly balanced description of the energy-related concerns surrounding PoW mining, although it also reiterates certain statements that recent research has challenged.. On the one hand, the authors claimed that the energy consumption and environmental impact of crypto mining could increase in the years to come, a claim contradicted in the Bitcoin Policy Institute fact-checking booklet.

Jake Chervinsky, the Clockchain Association’s policy director, tweeted that the memo “not only was bad, but it makes fundamental mistakes.”

The House EC Committee released a 9-page memorandum for this week’s hearing on cryptocurrency energy consumption. It’s not all bad, but it does make basic mistakes, like repeating the “per transaction” carbon emissions misconception.

Read it here and watch it Thursday at 10:30am ET

The hearing is scheduled for January 20 at 10:30 am EST and will be streamed here.

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