Murkowski Convenes Hearing Focused on Latest Cyber Threats

Cybersecurity Is a Priority

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine federal and industry efforts to improve the cybersecurity of the energy sector, including efforts to improve collaboration on various cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection initiatives.

In her opening remarks, Murkowski explained that cybersecurity must remain a priority even as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We all know the stakes here. A successful hack could shut down power – impacting hospitals, banks, gas pumps, military installations, and cell phone service,” Murkowski said. “The consequences would be widespread and devastating, and only more so if we are in the midst of a global pandemic.”

Murkowski highlighted recent developments, including the President’s Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk Power System, as well as the importance of protecting Critical Energy Infrastructure Information and securing supply chains. She also pointed to legislation that she recently introduced with Senator Jim Risch, R-Idaho, to update provisions in the Federal Power Act and restrict federal disclosures of certain sensitive energy information.  

Alexander Gates, an official in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), highlighted the Department’s focus on cybersecurity as one of the nation’s most urgent security challenges.

“The DOE is continually seeking to increase this reliability and resiliency by ensuring engagement with all stakeholders, particularly those in the energy sector,” Gates said. “We also seek to take advantage of DOE’s considerable strengths such as the national lab complex and our relationships across industry and state and local governments.”

Joseph McClelland of the Office of Energy Infrastructure Security at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Steve Conner of Siemens Energy, and Thomas O’Brien of PJM Interconnection also testified at the hearing.

An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Related Issues: Energy