The list of witnesses invited to testify at tomorrow’s U.S. Congress hearing on the energy usage of bitcoin mining and its consequences has been released, featuring a diverse set of professionals directly and indirectly involved in the industry.
The House will hold the hearing on Thursday as its Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee seeks to get a better understanding of Bitcoin’s power consumption and why it is needed after a cohort of national and international climate-related organizations sent Representatives a letter claiming proof of work (PoW) mining could be hazardous to the world’s climate in the long run.
However, the letter based its arguments on controversial and faulty research, as highlighted by the Bitcoin Policy Institute in a fact-checking note it published on January 13. The interdisciplinary group of economists, coders, lawyers, climate scientists, philosophers, and policy analysts on Tuesday published another note in an effort to curb possible misinformation being leveraged by the committee in its assessment of Bitcoin’s power usage.
Brain Brooks, the CEO of bitcoin mining company Bitfury, will return to Congress one month after having testified on the regulatory aspect of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. In December, Brooks joined a cohort of chief executives of cryptocurrency companies in a hearing at the House to discuss whether the current set of U.S. laws would be able to encompass the burgeoning assets and their unique set of characteristics.
Another industry insider to testify at the hearing is Soluna Computing CEO, John Belizaire. His company leverages the portability of bitcoin mining machines to easily balance out demand and supply of power grids, helping renewable energy producers sell every megawatt of power they generate. Belizaire has argued in the past that Bitcoin’s energy usage is a feature, not a bug, highlighting how the asset enables financial freedom to millions around the world. Soluna told Bitcoin Magazine that Belizaire’s testimony will focus on the Bitcoin network’s ability to help the world transition to renewables as its mining processes can be easily paused and resumed on demand.
A controversial figure to join the witnesses at the energy consumption hearing is Ari Juels, a Cornell Tech professor who is also co-director of the IC3 initiative and chief scientist at oracle platform Chainlink. In 2016, in his first paper on cryptocurrency, Juels described ways in which smart contracts could be used for criminal activities “as a warning to the community and to urge people to think seriously about the downsides of this technology,” he said in a 2018 conversation with Belizaire.
Gregory Zerzan, who in October published a commentary on Real Clear Politics about governments’ negative stance towards bitcoin and how its scarcity “has the potential to gain user confidence at the expense of fiat currency” like the U.S. dollar, will also be testifying at the hearing.
The final witness to join the hearing is Steve Wright, named general manager of Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County by the board of commissioners in 2013 and part of the leadership of the Alliance to Save Energy. Wright left Chelan County’s PUD at the end of last year.
The “Cleaning Up Cryptocurrency: The Energy Impacts of Blockchain” hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at 10:30 am EST. The event will be live-streamed on YouTube.