Monday, February 26, 2024

Review - S 3732 Introduce – AI Environmental Impacts

Earlier this month, Sen Markey (D,MI) introduced S 3732, the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act of 2024. The bill would require the EPA to conduct a study on the environmental impacts of artificial intelligence. It would then require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to convene a consortium “to identify the future measurements, methodologies, standards, and other appropriate needs, in order to measure and report the full range of environmental impacts of artificial intelligence”. No new funding is authorized by this legislation.

Moving Forward

Markey and one of his five cosponsors {Sen Welch (D,VT)} are members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that there may be sufficient influence to see the bill considered in Committee. With no funding, and no regulatory requirements, I see nothing in this bill would engender any organized opposition. I suspect that the bill would receive some level of bipartisan support were it considered. As with most bills introduced in the Senate, this bill is not politically important enough to take up the Senate’s time for consideration under regular order. I doubt that it would be a candidate for consideration under the unanimous consent process as it would draw the ire of a small number of Republicans who are almost knee-jerk opposed to any environmental legislation.


I noted in an earlier blog post on this bill:

“Section 2, Findings, of that draft lays out the type effects that Markley, et al, expect to find in the reports required in the bill. While those concerns seem to be legitimate and should be substantiated and quantified by the reports, it is clear from the bill’s language that the AI concerns are really more appropriately concerns about the operation of large server farms regardless of the focus of the individual facilities.”

Singling out one type of server farm, one that is already under the political microscope, is political grandstanding. If this is a legitimate effort to look at environmental effects of large server farms, then it should not matter if they are in the service of AI, crypto mining, or a social media backbone, they have an environmental effect that may need to be regulated. The study and measurement system development would go a long way to determine if regulations is necessary.


For more details about the provisions of this bill, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - - subscription required.

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