Markey Speaks Out for Increased Cybersecurity

Energy and Commerce Committee
Subcommittee on Communications and technology
“Cybersecurity: Threats to Communications Networks and private-sector responses”
Opening Statement
February 8, 2012

When the Stuxnet computer worm hijacked a series of nuclear centrifuges in Iran two years ago, the cyber genie was officially released from the bottle.

Last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that cyber threats will soon surpass terrorism as the number one threat facing the United States.

We know from the Department of Homeland Security that there have already been threats to the utility sector.  We also know that Russia and China have probed our electricity grid to find vulnerabilities.

Our economy hinges on a reliable flow of power, with losses that go into the billions of dollars with every major blackout. Our national security also depends on it, since 99 percent of the electricity used to power our military facilities – including critical strategic command assets – comes from the commercially operated grid.

Last September, I asked all five commissioners from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to name the number one threat to electric reliability. All five Commissioners agreed: cyber threats are the #1 threat to the grid.

In 2009, the full Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed the GRID Act, which I authored along with Chairman Upton. That bill gave FERC the authority to quickly issue grid security orders or rules if vulnerabilities or threats have not been adequately addressed by industry.

All five FERC commissioners also agreed that giving FERC this authority would increase America's ability to secure our electric grid.

With the cyber threat growing by the day, threatening our security and our economy, it is imperative that this Committee pass the GRID ACT so that we can move it forward and empower the FERC to move quickly to safeguard the electric grid from cyber threats that are not sufficiently addressed by industry.