Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the creation of a new Office of Energy Infrastructure Security (OEIS) to address potential cyber and physical risks to energy facilities. 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.
"I applaud FERC for this important step to provide expertise and resources to directly address cyber-threats and attacks facing our nation, but we can do more," said Rep. Markey. "The electric grid's vulnerability to attack is one of the single greatest threats to our national security. The GRID Act would give FERC the authority to quickly issue grid security orders or rules if vulnerabilities or threats have not been adequately addressed by industry. All five FERC commissioners agreed that giving FERC this authority would increase America's ability to secure our electric grid. It is imperative House Republicans stop their obstruction and join Democrats to pass the GRID ACT so that we can move empower FERC to gird the electric grid from cyber attacks that could devastate our banking, health care, and defense systems."
In August, Rep. Markey 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.
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 key House Republicans continue to block adoption of this critical legislation.