Barrasso Leads on Legislation to Boost Department of Energy Cybersecurity Office

March 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), along with Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Mike Crapo (R-ID), introduced legislation regarding the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER).

“China and Russia threaten our nation’s cyber security. Our energy grid and pipeline network are too important to be left vulnerable to attacks by such hostile nations or rogue actors,” said ranking member Barrasso. “The Department of Energy plays a critical role. The Department needs a Senate-confirmed head of its cyber office to help counter these threats.”

“CESER’s leadership never should have been downgraded from assistant secretary in the first place – not when attacks on America’s critical energy systems are only growing in size and severity. The leader of CESER must be restored to assistant secretary to put the U.S. in the best possible position to track and mitigate national security threats,” said Senator Risch.

“The U.S. Department of Energy plays a significant role in our national security by managing our nuclear infrastructure and conducting cutting-edge research on emerging energy technologies.  Having an assistant secretary in charge of maintaining cybersecurity helps to focus the agency’s attention on protecting sensitive information and mitigating threats from hackers,” said Senator Collins. “By mandating this Senate-confirmed position, we can ensure this role is raised to the level of importance it deserves which ultimately will better safeguard our critical energy infrastructure and intellectual property from adversaries and cybercriminals.”

“Properly combatting cyberattacks on energy infrastructure is critically important.  By requiring Senate confirmation for this role, we ensure the position holder remains committed to the tasks at hand as opposed to caving to the political whims of the appointing administration,” said Senator Crapo.

The legislation introduced today requires that an assistant secretary lead the DOE Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. The office was created in 2018, and was initially led by a Senate-confirmed assistant secretary. It is currently headed by an unconfirmed director.

Read the text of the bill here.

Background Information:

On March 1, 2022, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on S.2302, an earlier version of this legislation.

On June 24, 2021, Senator Barrasso introduced S.2302.