U.S. Department of Energy Halts Bitcoin Mining Survey Amid Legal Pushback

DOE’s emergency study on bitcoin mining is being withdrawn after legal challenges from Riot Platforms and the Texas Blockchain Council.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and Energy Information Administration (EIA) have withdrawn an emergency study of bitcoin mining facilities after facing legal backlash. The controversial study, which raised concerns about the energy consumption of bitcoin mining operations, was the subject of a lawsuit by Riot Platforms, Inc., a publicly traded bitcoin miner, and the Texas Blockchain Council, a nonprofit association.

Legal challenges and regulatory scrutiny

The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, questioned the rapid rollout of the study, arguing that it did not comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and could cause public harm. Plaintiffs secured a temporary restraining order on February 23, 2024, delaying the original deadline for survey participants to respond.

Emergency procedures in question

DOE’s use of emergency procedures to expedite the study was a crucial point of contention. It was argued that DOE failed to demonstrate an urgency that would justify circumventing the standard notice and comment procedures set forth by the PRA.

Settlement and Future Actions

After the legal challenge, DOE and EIA agreed to destroy all data collected so far and will begin a non-emergency review process that allows for a 60-day public comment period. That process is expected to take more than a year, addressing one of the case’s main concerns about the lack of public discourse on the issue.

Implications for Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining, a process that requires significant electrical power, has come under scrutiny for its potential impact on power grids and overall energy consumption. Initial EIA estimates suggest the industry could account for 0.6 percent to 2.3 percent of total annual U.S. electricity use, a figure comparable to the energy use of states such as Utah and Washington. However, these figures are now subject to further analysis and public input.

Industry response

The Bitcoin mining industry responded by highlighting the flexibility of mining operations, which can be shut down during peak demand to ease network strain. This feature is touted as a benefit that increases grid reliability, countering claims that mining operations could worsen power shortages.

This agreement marks a temporary reprieve for the Bitcoin mining industry from immediate federal oversight of energy use. However, the issue of energy usage in cryptocurrency mining remains a topic of active debate. The upcoming non-urgent study and public comment period will be critical in shaping the future regulatory landscape for the industry.

The outcome of this legal dispute signals a cautious approach by the government in regulating the cryptocurrency industry. It also highlights the importance of due process and public engagement in policy development that could have significant implications for the growth and functioning of the sector.


DOE’s decision to suspend the extraordinary study and adopt a more comprehensive process reflects a balancing act between regulatory oversight and industry innovation. As cryptocurrency continues to integrate into mainstream financial systems, resolving such conflicts will set precedents for how the industry is governed in the United States.

Image source: Shutterstock

Leave a Comment