Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senate Colleagues sent a letter to President Trump urging the Department of Energy to conduct an analysis of Russian capabilities with respect to cyber attacks on U.S. energy infrastructure.
In the letter, Sens. Cantwell (D-Wash.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Brown (D-Ohio), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Coons (D-Del.), Franken (D-Minn.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Markey (D-Mass.), Reed (D-R.I.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Murray (D-Wash.), Carper (D-Del.), Murphy (D-Conn.), and Shaheen (D-N.H.) request that President Trump, “direct the Department of Energy, in consultation with other relevant agencies, to within 60 days conduct a thorough analysis of:
a) the scope of Russian capabilities to use cyber warfare to threaten our energy infrastructure; and
b) the extent to which the Russians have already attempted cyber intrusions into our electric grid, pipelines, and other important energy facilities.”
This most recent letter follows a March 14, 2017 letter requesting that the Trump administration take action on cybersecurity threats to our energy infrastructure. In their letter sent on March 14th, Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Wyden demanded President Trump take urgent action to defend American energy infrastructure against potential attacks from Russia or other foreign actors.
During a March 14th hearing on modernizing the electric grid Sen. Cantwell called for action to defend our critical infrastructure against cyber attacks. During the hearing Sen. Cantwell said, “There is the issue of cybersecurity that keeps me up at night, thinking about potential hacks from Russia or foreign actors, as we see large-scale attacks happening in other places. If we do not make the necessary investments to prevent, defend against and minimize the impact of these cyber attacks, our enemies may succeed in causing a widespread blackout and devastation to our economy.”
After the cybersecurity firm Dragos issued a report on June 12th revealing that malware could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems, the Washington Post reported that, “Russian government hackers have already shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems.” In response, Sen. Cantwell called for action saying, “It’s important to have the tools in place to monitor critical infrastructure today. We need to make the right investment to protect our grid.”
In the most recent letter, the Sens. write that, “Instead of responsibly performing the requested assessment, your administration has proposed slashing funding to the very offices tasked with protecting our grid from Russian cyber attacks. Indeed, the Department of Energy’s Congressional Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2018 proposes to dramatically reduce funding for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability by more than 40% How can our government protect our national security assets if the administration does not allocate the necessary resources?”