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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded that her fellow federal lawmakers confront the growing use of cryptocurrency on Wednesday and blamed Bitcoin for worsening the “climate change” crisis.
Speaking to a Senate Banking Subcommittee hearing, Warren, who considers herself a “consumer advocate” and an opponent of Wall Street banks, according to Yahoo News, suggested that cryptocurrency is responsible for everything from an increase in international crime to a spike in carbon emissions.
“Cryptocurrency has created opportunities to scam investors, assist criminals, and worsen the climate crisis,” Warren said in the hearing. “The threats posed by crypto show that Congress and federal regulators can’t continue to hide out, hoping that crypto will go away. It won’t. It’s time to confront these issues head-on.”
In fact, Warren suggested later on social media that “one of the easiest and least disruptive things” federal legislators can do to curb the “climate crisis” is to take action against “environmentally wasteful” cryptocurrencies.
“Bitcoin requires so much computing activity that it eats up more energy than entire countries. One of the easiest and least disruptive things we can do to fight the #ClimateCrisis is to crack down on environmentally wasteful cryptocurrencies,” Warren tweeted, again promoting her idea that mining Bitcoin was somehow more destructive to the environment than traditional banking.
She repeated the claim again in conversation with Yahoo Finance, telling the outlet’s editor in chief that “with bitcoin, and with the other cryptocurrencies, I think there’s a real issue about the environmental impact as well, this whole notion of how much energy is consumed just to keep the currency tracking going.”
“You don’t consume that kind of energy, in order to have money on deposit at a bank or a mutual fund,” Warren continued. “In that sense, bitcoin is very different, and in the 21st century, we’re becoming a lot more sensitive to the worldwide impacts of the choices we make.”
Warren is pressing for an alternative to cryptocurrency: a Federal Reserve-backed “digital dollar” that she claims could make banking easier for low-income Americans and those without access to traditional banking structures. Republicans and other critics of the current Federal Reserve-backed banking system expressed serious skepticism of what appears to be a pseudo-cryptocurrency backed by a world government.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), told Warren flat-out that “we don’t need a state-sponsored bank interfering with this successful free-enterprise system.”
Warren’s critics on social media were harsher, pointing out that Warren, a former administrator for the Obama administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, cut checks to bankers with massive, million-dollar homes that are major energy consumers, and that Warren has used carbon-consuming private jets for travel. Others pointed out that there are environmental threats greater than mining Bitcoin that Warren is conveniently ignoring including traditional banking.
“Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management says the bitcoin ecosystem consumes less than 10% of the energy compared to the energy consumption of the traditional banking system,” according to NASDAQ. “It’s also vital to understand that the banking system is extensively large and serves billions of people.”
Twitter commentators also pointed out that Warren suggested Bitcoin itself was the environmental scourge and not Bitcoin mining.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Christmas lights consume more energy than bitcoin per year. This claim has been removed.