US Senators Raise Crypto Mining Concerns, Propose Government Blockchains

Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources asked concerning the cost of cryptocurrency mining and the chances for blockchain in the public business on Wednesday.
And while, like previous hearings, no firm decisions have been reached, Murkowski noted that the hearing was informative because of the committee’s members — possibly setting the stage to get more queriers to emerge.

The foremost risk discussed at the hearing revolved around the energy demands of cryptocurrency miners. Networks relying upon proof-of-work — which demand the cost of power to establish that”function” has been completed — normally need considerable amounts of energy, like the bitcoin blockchain, based on Golden.

Mining worries

At other points, the senators sought to clarify for themselves distinct elements of the technology’s elements. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, by way of example, asked about transaction privacy and whether law enforcement officials could be shrouded in carrying out their responsibilities.
Lisa Murkowski image via Energy Committee livestream

Murkowski commented that rising demand on the local level from new crypto mining farms can cause anxiety for utility providers, and might even damage the electrical grid. Her concern is that this could translate to increased prices for the supplier’s customers.

In remarks, committee chair Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska noted the”hearing will examine any cybersecurity advantages that blockchain and comparable technologies might offer over other ways of securing our energy infrastructure.”
At different times during the hearing, the conversation turned from perceived issues and toward how blockchain might be applied to the energy sector, including for monitoring shipments, validating security protocols or construction on other existing technologies.

The individuals giving testimony were Robert Kahn, CEO and president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives; Paul Skare, chief cybersecurity and technical team manager of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Thomas Golden, application manager of tech innovation at the Electric Power Research Institute; Claire Henly, management director of the Energy Web Foundation; and Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor of computer science at Princeton University.
Golden said power utilities should start having talks with their communities about supplying power for these companies, as a beginning to solving the infrastructure issue.
“Can we anticipate the consumer rates along with the concern that some might have this,’my loved ones and that I might not be those that benefit from blockchain along with bitcoin and yet I’m questioning are my rates will be expected to pay for this infrastructure?'”
Senator Bill Cassidy especially asked about specific uses such as the U.S. authorities, asking if it’s technically possible to come up with a blockchain for national governments to track shipments sent from one nation to another. Narayanan confirmed that such a platform is feasible, but would need involvement from whichever nations are not involved.
“I’d like to hone in on the security aspect, since I believe that it’s one of the most important here now,” Senator Maria Cantwell commented during an opening statement.
Compared with previous Congressional hearings which at times turned acrimonious toward the notion of blockchain along with cryptocurrencies, senators on the Energy Committee largely inquired about how blockchain can be applied to different projects.

Her alternative was to have a look at alternatives to PoW, noting that while they need considerable amounts of power, proof-of-stake along with proof-of-authority algorithms are more energy efficient, and can pose as feasible alternatives to scaling a blockchain without needing considerable amounts of power.

She requested:
But even reinforcing some localities’ grids may not be sufficient. Henly noted that”bitcoin’s power usage is a substantial concern … we all know that bitcoin’s energy use will block it from having the ability to scale.”
The witnesses estimated public blockchains might use anywhere from one to as much as five gigawatts globally, however, as Golden contended,”that is less than 0.1 percent of the global power usage.”

Security questions and national blockchains

Senator Steve Daines likewise asked how communities could prepare yourself for mining farms moving onto their power grids.

Released at Tue, 21 Aug 2018 20:00:51 +0000

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As with other crypto-related hearings on Capitol Hill, the hearing — which featured a selection of public and private-sector speakers — functioned in part as a informational session for lawmakers that aren’t quite familiar with the technologies.