Cantwell, Wyden Ask Trump To Defend U.S. Energy Infrastructure Against Foreign Cyberattacks

Senators Highlight Serious Threats to the U.S. Energy System from Russia and Other Foreign Actors

March 14, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote President Trump demanding urgent action to defend American energy infrastructure against potential attacks from Russia or other foreign actors.

“It is imperative that we are doing everything we can to harden and protect our infrastructure from very real and imminent threats,” the senators wrote.

The senators identified recent disruptive cyberattacks in Ukraine as a worrisome model for a potential similar attack against U.S. energy infrastructure.

“There are press reports that indicate that the Russians most likely hacked into three Ukrainian distribution utilities, knocking power out to more than 225,000 customers for several hours,” the senators wrote. “And it appears the Russians may have recently done it again. Two months ago, a utility in northern Kiev reported that their grid was brought down as a result of a cyberattack that was very similar to the alleged Russian attack in 2015.”

Given the potential threat, building the best possible defense against a cyberattack on our grid is vitally important. The bipartisan FAST Act, passed last Congress, identified the Department of Energy (DOE) as the lead agency to defend the energy sector against cyberattacks given their technical expertise in the area and ongoing collaboration with partners in U.S. industry.

In their joint letter, Senators Cantwell and Wyden urged the Trump administration to allow DOE to continue in its role as the lead agency for the cybersecurity of our nation’s energy sector.

“If there was ever a time that proves the pressing need for the work of the Department of Energy’s cybersecurity efforts, it is now,” the senators wrote.