During the Bitcoin 2023 event in Miami held on May 19, Cynthia Lummis, Republican Senator of Wyoming in the United States, engaged in a fireside chat with Perianne Boring, the founder and CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. They discussed the significance of Bitcoin (BTC) for U.S. national and energy security, and forthcoming legislation on cryptocurrency, blockchain, and relevant technologies.
Lummis described regulating Bitcoin and related technologies as a national security problem. She claimed that the U.S. government had been irresponsible with its debt and saw Bitcoin as a decentralized fail-safe for citizens:
“I’m actually worried as we go into another debt ceiling debate that we will eventually increase the debt ceiling to the point where our interest payments will exceed how much money we spend on national defense. So it is a national security issue.”
The senator emphasized that her belief was that the current obstacles surrounding the approval of Bitcoin-friendly legislation were more to do with a lack of knowledge or absence of education than concerns grounded in reality.
Lummis has high hopes that a bill she and junior New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have drafted as a comprehensive cryptocurrency legislative measure will serve as a catalyst for positive change. Still, according to Lummis, they are waiting to see how a bill introduced in the House relating to stablecoins performs before introducing their own.
Lummis appeared optimistic concerning the bill’s chances, citing as a significant factor that Gillibrand served on the Senate committee overseeing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, while she herself was a member of the committee with oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Boring, the founder and CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, changed the conversation to mining, highlighting that her company’s membership represented over 50% of the Bitcoin hash rate in the U.S. and that many of her clients were worried about the proposed 30% mining tax floated by the White House recently.
While mention of the tax solicited boos, Lummis turned the jeers into cheers by simply responding, “Well, I want to start by saying that isn’t going to happen.” She then reiterated that several members of Congress were working diligently with the digital assets community to ensure fair regulation would ensue.
Lummis claimed that it was a matter of national security that the U.S. government got the regulation correct. This time, she also stated that it was necessary for the environment that the country harnessed the Bitcoin mining process:
“One of the advantages of Bitcoin mining is that when you drill an oil and gas well, and it is distant from other oil and gas wells, you vent the gas into the atmosphere until you can bring in a pipeline to hook it up. […] Well, while that’s being vented, you can pull a Bitcoin mining operation in a trailer, use the vented methane gas to mine your Bitcoin, and you are preventing that gas from being vented into the atmosphere.”
The senator added, “Bitcoin is cleaning up the environment,” to further cheers from the audience. She also mentioned that Bitcoin mining can be used as a tool to stabilize the energy grid, stating that mining operations could be increased or decreased to ensure proper energy distribution.
Explaining why the U.S. government had been unwilling to promote Bitcoin technologies, Lummis cited the notion by Congress that “Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are being used for criminal activities.”
“We’ve tried to educate members of Congress that companies like Chainalysis can actually solve crimes easier with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies than they can with U.S. dollars,” clarified Lummis, adding, “but there are still people that just don’t believe that.” She went on to explain that pushing Bitcoin and related technological innovations such as mining operations overseas would erode U.S. law enforcement’s abilities to operate in an increasingly digital world.
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