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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. OWENS. This week, the Department of Defense acknowledged in its cybersecurity plan what many of us have known for some time: that cyberspace, like land, sea, and air that we have defended for over 200 years, requires our continued vigilance to protect the Nation. I offer this final amendment today to address this concern.

In my district of Fort Drum, I have a lengthy expanse of border between the United States and Canada; and like all of us, I have the electric grid, which is one of the areas that has the most potential to be struck by a cyberattack. I would also like to quote for you a statement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who noted in recent testimony:

``The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyberattack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems.''

It is no secret that the Internet has become a critical component of our day-to-day lives. Every day across the globe, over 2 billion users get online to shop, do business, connect with friends and family, and a host of other activities. Cybersecurity affects, clearly, our national defense, all of our businesses, our schools, our seniors--in effect, all of us.

Indeed, while the Internet has become one of our strongest capabilities, it has also emerged as a stunning vulnerability. We need only to look at recent cyberattacks on Sony, Lockheed Martin, and other enterprises to witness the extraordinary damage that can be caused from anywhere in the world at relatively little cost to those who carry out these actions.

Hackers become more sophisticated by the hour. An attack could cripple Fort Drum; it could cripple our national security; it could cripple the electric grid; it could cripple health care; it could cripple our ability to pay our bills and to raise money--in effect, destroy our economy. We all know that if the electric grid were crippled that we would be unable to get to work; we would be unable to keep people warm and to keep people cool--all things that we recognize as necessities.

I offer this final amendment to increase cybersecurity by $7 million in defense of the electric grid. This modest increase keeps an eye towards our need to reduce the deficit while making needed investments to protect our most critical infrastructure. This final amendment is fully offset and will go a long way to protect the country from this emerging threat.

I thank my colleagues for their time, and ask that they join me by voting ``yes'' on this final amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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