Proposed Bill Gives Energy Dept. Power in Cyber Emergency

Sens.  Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) have crafted and released a 12-page bipartisan draft of legislation aimed at protecting U.S. energy infrastructure from cyber attacks, Nextgov reports.

The lawmakers presented the legislation at a recent hearing for protecting energy from cyber threats. The senators have the backing of their peers, federal officials and industry leaders to ultimately give authority to the Energy Department over utilities during cyber emergencies.

The bill would give the Energy secretary permission to take actions deemed necessary if a cybersecurity threat occurred. The government would reimburse businesses for any inconvenience at having to follow immediate orders.

The legislation would exempt Murkowski’s state of Alaska, as well as Hawaii and Guam from emergency orders. The Pentagon would also be required to come with an emergency plan for protection against cyber threats.

Murkowski, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said when talking about imminent threats, it’s the Energy Department that holds the authority because it doesn’t need to wait for anyone. Echoing Murkowski’s call on granting authority to the Energy Department, committee chairman Bingaman said the current plans in place for such an emergency are not good enough.


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