Bitcoin Miners Challenge Biden Administration’s Data Collection Efforts

On February 22, Bitcoin miner Riot Platforms, along with industry groups Texas Blockchain Council (TBC) and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration. The lawsuit targets the US Department of Energy (DOE), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The lawsuit challenges the administration’s recent steps to gather detailed energy consumption data from the cryptocurrency mining sector. The legal complaint arises from a January decision by the OMB, which approved an emergency request by the EIA to collect data on energy usage from 82 Bitcoin mining operations, including that of Riot Platforms.

The plaintiffs argue that the DOE and EIA breached the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and the Administrative Procedure Act by rushing the approval and implementation of the survey without proper public notice and opportunity for comment. They claim this action not only lacks legal justification but also imposes unfair burdens on crypto miners by compelling them to disclose proprietary energy consumption data, potentially causing irreparable harm to their businesses.

The plaintiffs seek judicial relief to prevent the enforcement of the emergency ICR, including an order to vacate the DOE’s emergency approval of the request.

Key Points from the Lawsuit

  • Violation of Legal Procedures: The DOE and EIA failed to comply with the PRA’s requirements for public notice and comment, rendering the emergency information collection request (ICR) approval process arbitrary and unlawful.
  • Inadequate Justification for Emergency Collection: The plaintiffs dispute the DOE’s rationale for an emergency data collection, arguing it fails to meet established criteria for such expedited actions.
  • Concerns Over Confidential Information: The forced disclosure of sensitive business information under the emergency ICR is said to jeopardize the competitive positions of cryptocurrency miners.
  • Lack of Proper Notice and Opportunity for Comment: The filing criticizes the defendants for not providing sufficient notice or opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the information collection request, a violation of the PRA’s directives.

Significance of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing dialogue between the Bitcoin industry and regulatory bodies in the United States. Importantly, it reflects the industry’s willingness to engage in legal battles to protect their interests.