Riot Platforms, Inc. is currently having a beef with The New York Times (NYT) over an article it published, which singled out the company’s Bitcoin mining operation. The publication claimed that the crypto mining platform is responsible for a massive amount of fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually in the US.
The NYT Article
“The Real-World Cost of the Digital Race for Bitcoin” was the title of the thought-provoking article published by The New York Times on April 9, which featured the activities of 34 Bitcoin mining firms in the US. The article singled out Riot, the largest of the operations, claiming that it used 450 MW of power, with 96% coming from fossil fuels, and generated 1.9 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Riot’s Claims and Counterclaims
Riot has responded to the NYT, denying the allegations and providing its own account of its energy consumption and environmental impact. The company claims that it uses power from the Texas electrical grid, which sources 24% of its energy from wind, 10% from nuclear, and 4% from solar. It also says that it operates in rural regions where wind and solar energy are abundant and wasted during off-peak times, and all it does is take advantage of this available energy.
The company asserts that its operations do not generate any greenhouse gas emissions and that it uses energy in the same way as other data centers. It further contests claims that Bitcoin mining affects energy prices, reasoning out that electricity prices are rising due to other factors, such as monetary policy, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and restrictive energy policies.
Additionally, the crypto mining platform refutes the NYT’s data about the amount of savings that it has obtained by participating in energy-saving programs, the harm that the said programs do to energy availability and prices, and the irregularity of the activities.
Criticism of The New York Times Distorting Industry Data
Riot argues that the article contained a false and distorted view of both its company and the crypto-mining industry in general. The company claims that the NYT ignored the data provided by Riot and instead made politically motivated claims on its own. The company cautioned against the NYT’s allegations of selective granting of electrical access based on a party’s activities as well, stating that such preferential treatment could lead down a “dangerous path.”
The NYT’s Vendetta Against Bitcoin Mining
According to CryptoSlate, the allegations made by the NYT are part of the long-standing criticisms of Bitcoin and its energy use. Since around 2017, data has suggested that the mining of this type of crypto uses as much energy as certain countries.
While estimates suggest that Bitcoin mining still requires a considerable amount of energy, around 50% of all mining now relies on renewable energy sources. The concerns surrounding energy use have also been extended to NFTs, which gained popularity in 2021. However, Ethereum, which is the foundation for most NFTs, no longer engages in crypto mining and has moved away from the competitive use of energy to validate transactions.
Riot’s response to The New York Times’ allegations highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the energy consumption and environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is likely that such discussions will continue. It is important that stakeholders engage in open and honest dialogue to address these concerns and work towards a sustainable and responsible future for cryptocurrency.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.