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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A powerful House committee next week will convene a hearing on the energy use of digital cryptocurrency mining.

Why it matters: The Jan. 20 Energy and Commerce Committee hearing highlights growing concern about carbon emissions linked to bitcoin and other currencies, even as the sector vows to get greener.

  • It's a rare Capitol Hill hearing focused specifically on the crypto-energy nexus. The Senate's energy panel had a 2018 hearing on blockchain and energy. (Generate readers: Am I missing others?)

What they're saying: Committee leaders, in announcing the hearing, noted that cryptocurrency has seen a "meteoric rise in popularity."

  • "It’s time to understand and address the steep energy and environmental impacts it is having on our communities and our planet," said committee chairman Frank Pallone and Rep. Diana DeGette, who heads its oversight panel, in a statement.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Power demand surge thwarts climate goals

Expand chart
Reproduced from International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global electricity demand surged by record levels in 2021, causing price spikes and emissions growth, the International Energy Agency said.

Driving the news: New IEA data out Friday shows that power demand grew by over 1,500 terawatt-hours, the highest absolute amount ever.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.