US agencies pause Biden-sanctioned emergency miner survey following lawsuit

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) paused the controversial survey of crypto mining firms on Feb. 23 following a lawsuit from members of the crypto mining sector.

Crypto mining company Riot Platforms and the Texas Blockchain Council launched the lawsuit on Feb. 22. The case names the EIA, the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the heads of those agencies as defendants.

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The EIA confirmed that the survey has been paused in a statement:

“EIA will not enforce any requirement to file Form EIA-862 nor seek or impose any fines, penalties, or other adverse consequences based on a failure to respond to the survey through March 22, 2024.”

The agency will also sequester any data that it has collected and will refrain from using it until the same data, according to the current notice.

An entry in the case docket similarly confirms the survey pause, noting that the EIA will “take the survey down [and] there will be a notice stating there are [four] more weeks reprieve.”

Data collection concerns

Republican Congressman Tom Emmer recently raised concerns over the collection of data from crypto mining firms in a letter on Feb. 22.

He argued that the OMB could only grant the EIA’s information collection request without a comment period by demonstrating that mining is likely to cause public harm. He added:

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“Bitcoin mining is not a threat to public safety. Period.”

Riot and the Texas Blockchain Council’s lawsuit relies on a similar argument, as one section of their complaint states that the emergency approval and supposed public harm are “facially absurd.”

The survey has been closely linked with the Biden administration and the Democratic party. One section of the lawsuit explicitly acknowledges this, noting that a September 2022 statement from the Biden Whitehouse specifically suggested targeting mining firms with energy limitation actions and laws.

The EIA, for its part, is concerned that Bitcoin mining could lead to increased energy consumption during high energy demand periods, including during cold weather.

The office originally aimed to collect data from 82 crypto-mining firms, and companies that did not comply could have faced $10,000 in daily fines until the survey period ended in July.

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Author: Mike Dalton

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