Gardner, Bennet Introduce Cybersecurity Legislation to Protect Energy Grid

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act today to protect the country’s energy grid from cyber-attacks.

“Colorado and states across the country need to secure our energy grids and be better prepared against cyber-attacks that threaten our critical infrastructure,” said Senator Gardner. “I’ve worked with Senator Bennet on these bipartisan pieces of legislation because we both know the risk cyber-attacks pose to our country and the need for leadership on these issues. This legislation will help shore up our electric grid’s vulnerabilities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to gather more bipartisan support and see these bills signed into law.” 

“Increasing the resilience of our electric grid in both rural and urban America is critical to preventing a crippling cyberattack. We must protect the infrastructure that serves as the backbone for everything from hospitals and banks, to gas stations and water treatment facilities,” said Senator Bennet. “That is why we’ve worked with Coloradans and national energy organizations to ensure our legislation provides the technical assistance they need to safeguard their communities from cyberattacks.”

Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act

This bill authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide financial assistance to states to develop or revise a State Energy Security Plan. The bill outlines the contents of a State Security Plan, including the need for coordination and joint exercises with industry and federal stakeholders.  It authorizes DOE $90 million annually for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022 to offer financial and technical assistance to states as they develop and update their plans.

A State Energy Security Plan will assess a state’s existing circumstances and propose methods to strengthen the ability of a state to:

  • Secure the energy infrastructure of the State against all physical and cybersecurity threats;
  • Mitigate the risk of energy supply disruptions to the state and enhance response to, and recovery from energy disruptions; and
  • Ensure the state has a reliable, secure, and resilient energy infrastructure.

Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act

This legislation would authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide physical and cyber security assistance to electric utilities where the Secretary has substantial concerns and electric utilities with fewer available resources due to size or region, and submit a report addressing physical and cyber security vulnerabilities in electricity distribution systems. Support from DOE would include providing tools for self-assessment, assisting with threat assessment and training, and increasing the sharing of best practices and data collection.

Building on Cybersecurity Progress 

In 2018, Bennet led an amendment with Gardner and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—the Energy Jobs for Our Heroes Act to help veterans prepare for careers in cybersecurity and clean energy—and secured it in the energy and water spending bill that was signed into law.

 

In Bennet’s capacity as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he secured a cyber and grid security bill, also supported by Gardner, in the 2018 Senate Farm Bill, to ensure cybersecurity and grid improvement projects are eligible for USDA Rural Utility Service loans.

 

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