Riot Slams New York Times For ‘Inflammatory’ Bitcoin Mining Post

For the NYT to compare bitcoin power usage to electricity in people’s homes is an “arbitrary, inflammatory, and political choice,” Riot said

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Source: Shutterstock / Stuart Monk, modified by Blockworks

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One of the largest bitcoin miners rejected claims that miners generate extensive carbon pollution and find ways to make big bucks from pressuring power grids.

A New York Times article dated April 9 states a Riot Platforms-owned mine in Rockdale, Texas uses as much electricity as 300,000 homes in the vicinity. This makes it the most power-intensive miner in the US, according to the NYT. 

The NYT further states that among 34 bitcoin mines, Riot has the highest power consumption of 450 megawatts, equal to 1.9 million tons of carbon emissions annually. 

But Riot pushed back against the newspaper’s claims, issuing a statement on April 10 that said the company was disappointed at the “false and distorted view” published.

Riot said its bitcoin mining operations don’t generate any greenhouse gas emissions, just like any other data center used by Facebook, Amazon or Google. Its data center consumes electricity from the Texas power grid, which Riot described as the “cleanest and most renewable energy-sourced grid in the US.”

An independent review of renewable energy production shows that while Texas produces the most total renewable energy, the percentage of the state’s energy use that comes from renewables is 26%, due to the large amount of fossil fuel-derived energy the state also produces. The most renewable energy as a percentage of in-state usage is produced by South Dakota, with 83%.

Riot also pointed to other energy-related benefits of its operations.

“We also proudly participate in various programs that help to stabilize the electric grid and actually reduce power prices, despite what critics incorrectly assume,” Riot said. 

“Unlike other industries, we can shut down at a moment’s notice, making power available to other users and critical infrastructure during extreme weather events, while offsetting losses from curtailing our operations.”

The NYT seems to have done its research, saying one of its reporters traveled to Texas and North Dakota, and probed not just bitcoin miners, but energy experts, scientists and politicians. They also reviewed records on mining operations.

But Riot claimed that NYT’s reporting was driven by “fringe political interests,” and published a document detailing its responses to the questions the outlet posed prior to the article’s publication.

NYT further claimed that the power used by bitcoin mining centers is “as if another New York City’s worth of residences were now drawing on the nation’s power supply.”

Choosing to compare electricity usage to people’s homes “is an arbitrary, inflammatory, and political choice,” Riot said in response.

“The obvious implication by the NYT is that New York City residents should be allowed to consume electricity; data centers in rural America should not.”

Riot also pushed back against NYT saying that bitcoin companies are paid by the Texas grid operator for “promising to quickly power down if necessary to prevent blackouts.” But Riot said it isn’t compensated for “promises,” and instead is paid for providing the grid the ability to directly manage its power load.

“By implication, the NYT’s preference appears to be that Riot should refuse to curtail so that it pays higher fees; yet the implication of the entire article is that Bitcoin miners should not be allowed to operate at all. Both of these alternate realities are incongruous and insidious.”

Riot’s concerns about politically-motivated allegations are not unfounded because miners are indeed facing a tough time. Lawmakers in Texas recently moved to approve a bill that would cut incentives for bitcoin miners, including the unwinding of tax breaks for local operations.


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