Republican opposition, utility lobbying blocking adoption of GRID Act to protect U.S. electrical power system from cyber-attack
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An America where every single piece of technology including computers, automobiles, and telephones sits idle after being sapped of power may sound like the fall season’s newest television show, but it is the grim reality our nation could face in the wake of a cyber-attack by enemy states or terrorists. Following the U.S. Senate’s failure last week to address cyber threats to America’s electrical grid, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today called on President Obama to take action by Executive Order to ensure that all necessary measures be taken to secure system reliability when cyber threats and vulnerabilities to the nation’s electrical power system are known. With national security experts warning that cyber-attacks will soon surpass terrorism as the number one threat facing the country, Rep. Markey’s letter cites ongoing Republican opposition fueled by utility sector lobbying as the primary impediments to legislative action that would ensure the security and reliability of America’s electricity grid.
“I’m calling on President Obama to do by Executive Order what Congressional Republicans refuse to do through legislation: protect our nation from the 21st century cyber-armies preparing to wage war on our banking, health care, and defense systems by knocking out America’s electricity grid,” said Rep. Markey. “By continuing to block action on this important issue, Congressional Republicans once again have shown their legislative agenda to be one big I.O.U. – Insurers, Oil companies, and Utilities. Except it is the American people who will be called to pay the price when it comes due. The moneyed minions behind Citizens United have driven Republicans to prioritize the interests of the wealthiest corporations over America’s national security. In the face of relentless lobbying from the electric utility industry, Republicans have turned their backs on protecting the electricity grid from cyber-attack, one of the most pressing national security issues of our time.”
A copy of Rep. Markey’s letter to President Obama can be found HERE.
Reports of cybersecurity incidents at U.S. power plants and other infrastructure skyrocketed nearly 400 percent from 2010 to 2011. FBI Director Robert Mueller recently warned that cyber-attacks soon will surpass terrorism as the number one threat facing the country. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that hackers have come close to shutting down portions of America’s critical infrastructure.
In the last Congress, Reps. Markey and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), introduced H.R. 5026, the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act, which gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the clear authority to issue regulations to combat known cyber-vulnerabilities. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the legislation passed by a vote of 47-0 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and unanimously in the full House of Representatives. In this Congress, the electric utility sector has lobbied aggressively against the measure and Republican leadership continues to block adoption of this critical legislation.