Barrasso: Biden has prioritized greening the grid over the reliability of energy

March 23, 2023

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered opening remarks at a full committee hearing to examine cybersecurity vulnerabilities to the United States' energy infrastructure.

The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Puesh M. Kumar, Director of the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response Preparedness; Mr. Robert M. Lee,  CEO and Co-Founder of Dragos, Inc.; and Mr. Stephen L. Swick, Chief Security Officer of American Electric Power.

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Thanks so much, Mr. Chairman.

“I agree with the comments you made and I want to thank you for holding the hearing today.

“The reliability and resilience of the electric grid and our nation’s pipeline network are critical to our national security.

“From healthcare to finance, and to manufacturing and transportation, these sectors rely heavily on a steady supply of energy to help keep our nation going.

“Nearly two years ago, the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline offered a disturbing example of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure.

“It forced the temporary shutdown of a pipeline network that supplies almost half of the gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel to the eastern part of the United States.

“As China and Russia have grown more aggressive on the world stage, so too have their tactics in cyber space.

“In the opening weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia-connected hackers attempted to take almost a dozen American power plants and natural gas sites offline.

“Mr. Lee, who’s testifying before us today, described the malicious software they used as a ‘wartime capability.’

“Russian cyber-attacks are an immediate threat to the American energy sector.

“It is the Chinese government, though, that poses the greatest long-term cyber threat to America’s critical energy infrastructure.

“China’s been targeting American pipeline control systems for more than a decade.

“The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security believe these hackers are attempting to establish control over American pipelines to use in future China-backed operations. 

“The director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned us just a few weeks ago about China.

“She said that in the case of an invasion of Taiwan, China would likely launch cyberattacks against America’s critical energy infrastructure.

“She stated – ‘the big threat we all need to care about is China.’

“The Biden Administration has prioritized – wrongly so – greening of the grid over the reliability of energy production and delivery.

“This is a dangerous mistake.

“It dramatically increases the risk to our national security.

“From solar panels to electric vehicles, this Administration is forcing the rapid adoption of technology that is inherently more vulnerable to cyberattacks and exploitation.

“According to leading cybersecurity experts, electric vehicles offer ‘orders of magnitude’ more targets for cyberattacks than standard internal-combustion engines.

“Orders of magnitude” greater risk.

“Remarkably, the Secretary of Energy chose to downgrade the leadership of the Department’s

Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.

“This is at the very time that her own Department is pushing the adoption of technologies that pose an increased cybersecurity risk.

“Soon after Secretary Granholm was sworn in, I, along with a bipartisan group of senators, wrote her to urge the Department to assign an assistant secretary to lead the Department’s office of cybersecurity.

“We explained the role of the office would be diminished if a Senate-confirmed official did not lead it.

“She took no action.

“Two months later, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked and forced to shut down.

“To revitalize the Department of Energy’s cybersecurity office, Senators Risch, Collins, Crapo, and I introduced a bill this week to ensure that an assistant secretary will lead the Department’s cybersecurity office.

“Restoring the office to its prior standing is an obvious first step.

“But more needs to be done.

“The federal government must get its cyber house in order.

“We must do more to counter China and Russia.

“We must work to strengthen private-public partnerships to improve the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure.

“And we must not weaken our security in a headlong rush to electrify everything.

“I want to thank the witnesses for all joining us today.

“I look forward to their testimony and their answers to our questions.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”