Murkowski Calls for Protection of Electrical Grid

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called for cyber protection of the nation's electrical grid after comments by a senior Obama administration official that "the cyber threat can be an existential threat - meaning it can challenge our country's very existence, or significantly alter our nation's potential."

This warning comes on the heels of a recent overseas report that detailed how to attack a small U.S. power grid sub-network in a way that would cause cascading failure to our entire nation.

"While this foreign paper is reportedly only an academic exercise, it underscores the very real danger posed to our nation's electric infrastructure by a cyber attack," Murkowski said. "Last spring, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recognized this threat and took action to address the issue, among others, yet the Senate majority leader refuses to allow this important bill to move forward."

In the bipartisan American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (S. 1462) the committee provided both the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the ability to address today's known cyber risks and weaknesses, as well as future threats to protect the nation's critical electric infrastructure from cyber attack.

Under the bill, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the authority to issue rules or orders to protect the nation's electrical generation, transmission and distribution system from cyber attacks. The bill also authorizes the Energy Department to require immediate action to protect against cyber security threats. Both entities are required to consult with utilities, federal agencies, with Canada and Mexico, and other state regulatory agencies to develop systems to protect power and grid facilities. The energy bill also provides a plan to protect the electric power supplies of national defense facilities in Alaska, Hawaii and the Territory of Guam.

The bipartisan energy bill has now been languishing on the Senate calendar for nearly 9 months.

"This is yet another example of why the full Senate should take up the energy bill," Murkowski said. "Our bipartisan bill contains many provisions to not only protect our nation from cyber attacks, but also move toward a cleaner energy future. I will continue to urge the majority leader to allow a vote on the energy bill for the betterment of our country."

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