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Rep. Clarke’s Applauds the Passage of HR 5026, The GRID Act

Today, HR 5026, The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act (GRID Act), passed the House of Representatives under suspension of the rules. The bill is similar to the Committee on Homeland Security’s H.R. 2195, which would protect America’s electric grid from cyber threats. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology, released the following statement:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 5026, the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act, and urge my colleagues to support it. I thank my colleague Chairman Markey for bringing this important legislation to the floor.

“The GRID Act empowers the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in the event of a Presidential emergency declaration, to take actions needed to protect our grid.

“I have said this before but it bears repeating: A modern society is characterized by the presence of three things: clean available water, properly functioning sewage and sanitation services, and electricity.

“I would further assert that the way our present systems function, electricity is needed to power those other critical systems. So at a minimum, we rely on electricity to function as a modern society.

“It is our very reliance on this infrastructure that makes it an obvious target for attack. We know that many of our adversaries – from terrorist groups to nation states – have and continue to develop capabilities that would allow them to attack and destroy our grid at a time of their choosing.

“There are two significant threats to the electric grid. One is the threat of cyber attack. Many nation states, like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, have offensive cyber attack capabilities, while terrorist groups like Hezbollah and al Qaeda continue to work to develop capabilities to attack and destroy critical infrastructure like the electric grid through cyber means.

“If you believe intelligence sources, our grid is already compromised. An April 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal cited intelligence sources who claim that the grid has already been penetrated by cyber intruders from Russia and China. The intelligence sources also cited that the cyber intruders were positioned to activate malicious code that could destroy portions of the grid at their command.

“The other significant threat to the grid is the threat of a physical event that could come in the form of a natural or manmade Electromagnetic Pulse, known as EMP. The potentially devastating effects of an EMP to the grid are well documented.

“During the Cold War, the U.S. government simulated the effects of EMP on our infrastructure, because of the threat of nuclear weapons, which emit an EMP after detonation. Though we may no longer fear a nuclear attack from Soviet Russia, rogue adversaries (including North Korea and Iran) possess and test high altitude missiles that could potentially cause a catastrophic pulse across the grid.

“These are only two of the significant emerging threats we face in the 21st century. Our adversaries openly discuss using these capabilities against the United States. According to its ‘Cyber Warfare Doctrine,’ China’s military strategy is designed to achieve global ‘electronic dominance’ by 2050, to include the capability to disrupt financial markets, military and civilian communications capabilities, and the electric grid prior to the initiation of traditional military operations.

“Cyber and physical attacks against the grid could both be catastrophic and incredibly destructive events, but they are not inevitable. Protections can – and must – be put in place ahead of time to mitigate the impact of these attacks.

“The time for action is now, support the GRID Act and help ensure America’s future.”