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Energy Department, cryptocurrency miners reach possible agreement in data reporting dispute

The details of the agreement reached this week have not been disclosed, but the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division, ordered the parties to file details and a proposed order by Friday.

Published: March 1, 2024 12:59pm

A federal judge has canceled a preliminary hearing related to a lawsuit launched by Texas cryptocurrency miners over a Energy Department reporting requirement.

According to the decision, the parties involved in the dispute had reached an “agreement in principle” during a telephone conference Tuesday.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is the data arm of the DOE, had enacted a mandatory survey for cryptocurrency miners, hoping to evaluate their energy use.

The administrative rule was passed without the normal announce-and-comment process after the Office of Management and Budget granted the EIA an emergency exception.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance filed a complaint and a request for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the Texas Blockchain Council and Riot Platforms, Inc. to block the survey, which they say was enacted illegally and would force them to divulge sensitive and proprietary information.

A district court granted the temporary restraining order request Monday and signaled in its decision that the plaintiffs arguments would likely hold merit in court.

The Sierra Club filed an amicus brief Wednesday in support of the survey, arguing the cryptocurrency mining operations put a “severe burden” on the grid due to their high electricity demand.

“Bitcoin operations have already caused increased reliability risks and prices for the Texas grid,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation director for the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, in a statement.

According to multiple reliability assessments in the past couple of years by the nation’s grid watchdog, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, grids are stressed by the lack of reliable power as coal plants are retired and utilities rely more on natural gas and intermittent wind and solar power.

According to Utility Brief, the details of the agreement reached this week have not been disclosed, but the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division, ordered the parties to file details and a proposed order by Friday.