Biden administration’s notorious Bitcoin mining survey halted after legal backlash

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) agreed to stop the emergency survey of Bitcoin miners as part of an agreement to end the lawsuit filed by several industry players, including the Texas Blockchain Council.

According to the March 1 court filing, the EIA must destroy any survey information it has already received and information yet to be received. It must also sequester or keep confidential that data until it is destroyed.

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The controversial survey aimed to gather data on how much energy miners use. However, the industry responded with lawsuits that argued the survey would “irreparably harm” operations by forcing miners to divulge “confidential information.”

Agreement terms

As part of the agreement, the EIA will publish a new notice in the Federal Register to restart the survey process from scratch — withdrawing and replacing a previous notice from Feb 9, which did not invite comment and feedback.

The new notice must allow for a 60-day comment period, after which the EIA may conduct the survey following specific statutory and regulatory provisions.

Additionally, the EIA must consider comments submitted in response to both the new and the Feb. 9 notices as if they were submitted to the new notice.

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The EIA and other defendants will additionally pay the plaintiffs — Riot Platforms and Texas Blockchain Council — $2,199.45 to cover legal costs and fees.

Controversial survey

The EIA began collecting data on mining firms in late January after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) authorized the survey as an emergency request. The controversial survey has been closely linked to the policies of the Biden administration, specifically the energy policies outlined in its 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

The agencies were concerned that Bitcoin mining could accelerate alongside price growth, leading to greater energy consumption during high-demand periods and cold weather.

Republican Congressman Tom Emmer expressed opposition to the survey on Feb. 22. In addition to denying that Bitcoin mining posed a threat, Emmer noted that the EIA had justified a survey based on emergency policies but had failed to introduce the required comment period.

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Industry players, including Riot Platforms, the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and the Texas Blockchain Council, filed a lawsuit against the survey, resulting in the court granting a temporary stay until March 24.

Following the legal action, the EIA paused its attempts to collect data one day later on Feb. 24.

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Author: Mike Dalton

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