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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. financial authorities are preparing to actively regulate the $1.5 trillion cryptocurrency market amid growing concerns of a lack of oversight, the Financial Times reports.

Why it matters: New efforts under the Biden administration reflect a break from the Trump-era approach, in which the administration at times encouraged cryptocurrency use within the financial system.

Michael Hsu, who was appointed this month as acting U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, told the FT that he wants U.S. officials to work together to set a "regulatory perimeter" for crypto.

  • Hsu testified at a congressional hearing earlier this month that, after seeing fintechs create new payment processing tools, "it is hard not to feel some déjà vu" to the years preceding the 2008 financial crisis.
  • The new techniques give rise “to a large and less regulated shadow banking system," he said.

Go deeper

How crypto jammed the Senate

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In a sign of the times, cryptocurrency regulations held up a massive infrastructure bill in the U.S. Senate.

Catch up quick: A crypto tax reporting amendment to the $1 trillion package sought to bring in some $28 billion in new tax revenue.

  • A vote was held today at around 4:30 p.m. ET, potentially determining how the crypto industry evolves in the U.S. —  in a bill completely unrelated to crypto. The amendment needed unanimous consent to make the cut, but an objection from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) prevented it from being adopted.

The big picture: As CoinDesk’s Nikhilesh De reports, the crypto industry fears the passage of the bill might lead to businesses and developers leaving the U.S.

  • At issue is a provision that would broadly define the term "broker," leading to fears that non-broker entities would be forced to shut down for non-compliance.
  • Brokers specifically need identifying information from customers when facilitating crypto transactions, which miners, validators, developers and hardware manufacturers – the firms and individuals undergirding the crypto economy – may not have.
  • These companies may choose to leave the U.S., lock out U.S. customers or just shut down their operations if forced to comply with these regulations, putting a dent in a rapidly-growing industry within the U.S.

The latest:  Despite much angst on crypto Twitter, the Senate rejected a compromise on Monday to narrow the scope of the rule to only those entities that actually facilitate transactions for customers.

  • The industry's eyes now turn to the House of Representatives, which could modify the language before passing the bill.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.