This week, President Biden released his fiscal year 2024 budget. The $5.9 trillion monstrosity is rife with wasteful spending, duplicative programs, and guaranteed bureaucratic growth. It seems Team Biden hasn’t noticed inflation or is insulated from having to worry about the high-cost impact to everyday goods.
Of all the problematic provisions, there is one that stands out as the worst of the worst. On page 71 of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s explanation, there is a narrative describing a new digital asset mining energy excise tax. Specifically, the provision would establish a tax “equal to 30 percent of the costs of electricity used for digital asset mining.” The tax would be implemented over three years starting first with 10%, then 20 and then 30%.
To be clear, when the text says digital asset mining they are talking about one specific type of crypto technology—Bitcoin mining. The administration is hoping there are enough people that don’t like, don’t care, or don’t understand bitcoin mining to get this one through. The premise for this provision is that bitcoin mining uses a lot of electricity, and this increased use is having a negative impact on the environment. For some context, the bitcoin network uses less energy than we in the U.S. use for drying our clothes and less than video gaming.
In technical terms, digital asset miners are no different than data centers. They purchase energy from the grid and that electricity is then used to power computers. As one industry group pointed out, “there is no meaningful difference between a ‘digital asset mining facility’ and datacenters run by Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Each is just a building in which electricity powers IT equipment to run computing workloads.” To the extent there are any emissions, they come from the power generation facilities, which are already subject to a range of pollution control standards aimed at limiting their environmental impact on the air, water, soil, and climate.
While the administration continues to argue that bitcoin mining is bad for the environment, in reality, mining has no tangible impact as it does not emit any direct pollutants. The goal of this tax is not emissions reductions, but rather technological destruction. Control of bitcoin miners’ access to electricity by making it unbearably expensive is how the administration hopes to squeeze the industry out of existence.
One doesn’t need to understand bitcoin mining to see how consequential this type of provision could be. A federal excise tax designed to limit electricity use for an industry that has fallen out of political favor because of the advocacy of well-connected but radical environmental groups is a dangerous precedent for the Biden administration to set. Make no mistake—if this provision were to ever become law, the Biden regime would expand it to other politically-disfavored industries like gun manufacturers, aluminum plants, refineries, and pipelines.