Risch, King Bill to Protect Energy Infrastructure Secures Western Governors’ Association Endorsement

Risch, King Bill to Protect Energy Infrastructure Secures Western Governors’ Association Endorsement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) today announced that the Western Governors’ Association, a bipartisan group of 19 governors from Western states and 3 governors from Western U.S. territories, has endorsed the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by the Senators earlier this year, seeks to protect America’s electric grid from cyber-attacks. The WGA expressed their support in a letter earlier this month to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Subcommittee on Energy.

“As our nation evaluates its vulnerability to cyber-attacks, there is one major liability that is often overlooked: our energy grid,” said Senator King, a member of both the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “As more and more of our grid relies on computerized systems, our risk of catastrophic attack increases – one that would cripple businesses and could threaten lives. That is why I introduced the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, which will examine ways to employ low-tech redundancies as back-ups to automated systems. I’m grateful to the Western Governors’ Association for their support, and hope that Congress can act quickly to start working towards a grid that is prepared for any attacks.”

“Securing our critical energy infrastructure systems is not a partisan issue. As noted by the Western Governors Association (WGA), it’s a national security issue that requires the attention of every state and federal leader,” said Senator Risch, a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Energy and Natural Resources Committees. “I thank the WGA for their endorsement of our bill, which utilizes the unique assets and expertise of our national laboratories to drive innovation as they re-examine critical infrastructure security. Additionally, I am proud that the Idaho National Lab is a leader on this important topic.”

“The security of the United States electric grid is essential to the provision of reliable energy in the West,” wrote Governors Dennis Daugaard (Chair, R-S.D.) and David Ige (Vice Chair, D-Hawaii) in the letter. “This bill advances the Western Governors’ goals of putting the United States on a path to energy security.”

The  Securing Energy Infrastructure Act would:

  • Establish a two-year pilot program within the National Laboratories to study covered entities and identify new classes of security vulnerabilities, and research and test technology that could be used to isolate the most critical systems of covered entities from cyber-attacks.
  • Require the establishment of a working group to evaluate the technology solutions proposed by the National Laboratories and to develop a national cyber-informed strategy to isolate the energy grid from attacks. Members of the working group would include federal government agencies, the energy industry, a state or regional energy agency, the National Laboratories, and other groups with relevant experience.
  • Require the Secretary of Energy to submit a report to Congress describing the results of the program, assessing the feasibility of the techniques considered, and outlining the results of the working groups’ evaluation.
  • Define “covered entities” under the bill as segments of the energy sector that have already been designated as entities where a cyber-security incident could result in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security.

In the letter, the WGA highlights the bill’s important steps towards protecting our critical energy infrastructure from cyber-attacks. The Western Governors’ Association is a bipartisan organization consisting of the governors of 19 Western States and 3 Western U.S. territories.

The text of their letter can be found in full HERE and is below:

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September 6, 2017

Honorable Lisa Murkowski

Chairman

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Honorable Maria Cantwell

Ranking Member

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Honorable Cory Gardner

Chairman

Subcommittee on Energy

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Honorable Joe Manchin III

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Energy

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Murkowski, Cantwell, Gardner, and Manchin:

The security of the United States electric grid is essential to the provision of reliable energy in the West. The bipartisan Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, S. 79, creates a pilot program and working group to: identify the security vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure; create and implement technology programs and standards to defend that infrastructure; and develop a national cyber-informed strategy to insulate the energy grid from attacks.

This bill advances the Western Governors’ goals of putting the United States on a path to energy security and modernizing transmission and pipeline infrastructure, as articulated in Western Governors’ Association Policy Resolution 2016-09, Energy and Transmission, and the Association’s 10-Year Energy Vision. Western Governors appreciate the bill’s requirement that the working group must include a representative from a state or regional energy agency.

Western Governors are committed to helping improve cybersecurity for the energy grid and support the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act’s provisions to improve the security of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure.

Sincerely,

Dennis Daugaard                                                              David Ige

Governor of South Dakota                                           Governor of Hawaii

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