In-Depth: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced this bill to help states secure their power supplies. In opening remarks at the committee’s hearing "Investing in America’s Energy Infrastructure: Improving Energy Efficiency and Creating a Diverse Workforce,” Rep. Rush said:
“Most of today’s bill enjoy bipartisan support and I would like to thank Ranking Member Upton for working with my office in cosponsoring HR 2114, the Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act. This bill would provide much-need[ed] assistance to State Energy Offices to plan for and respond to energy disruptions from both physical and cyber threats, and I look forward to moving it forward.”
Senate sponsor Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) says:
“Colorado and states across the country need to secure our energy grids and be better prepared against cyber-attacks that threaten our critical infrastructure. I’ve worked with Senator Bennet on these bipartisan pieces of legislation because we both know the risk cyber-attacks pose to our country and the need for leadership on these issues. This legislation will help shore up our electric grid’s vulnerabilities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to gather more bipartisan support and see these bills signed into law.”
Senate cosponsor Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) adds:
“Increasing the resilience of our electric grid in both rural and urban America is critical to preventing a crippling cyberattack. We must protect the infrastructure that serves as the backbone for everything from hospitals and banks, to gas stations and water treatment facilities. That is why we’ve worked with Coloradans and national energy organizations to ensure our legislation provides the technical assistance they need to safeguard their communities from cyberattacks.”
Electric grid resilience advocacy organization Protect Our Power supports this legislation. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, an advisor to Protect Our Power, says:
“Protect Our Power applauds Senators Gardner and Bennet for their leadership on this vital national security issue. The threat posed by nation-states probing for ways to cripple our critical infrastructure is real, it is growing, and it is constant. Our electric grid, in particular, is highly vulnerable to attack."
This legislation has one House cosponsor, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and hasn’t received a committee vote. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), has one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). Protect Our Power and Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN) support this legislation.
In the last Congress, this legislation passed the House by a voice vote with the support of one House cosponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). Its Senate companion was sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and didn’t receive a committee vote.
Of Note: A grid resiliency study conducted by the Vermont Law School on behalf of Protect Our Power identified a pressing need for technical and financial assistance to enhance cybersecurity, particularly at smaller investor-owned utilities, public power authorities, and rural electric cooperatives.
Congressional interest in protecting the U.S. electric grid against foreign cyberattacks has increased due to reports that Iran has stepped up its cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure. Additionally, the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment found that Russia not only has the ability to execute cyberattacks against the U.S. electric grid, but is also “mapping our critical infrastructure with the long-term goal of being able to cause substantial damage.”
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / alexsl)