Energy SecurityWhether it’s the flip of a light switch or plugging in your cell phone to charge – never has the reliability of our energy supply been more important to so much in our daily lives. That also means never has energy infrastructure been a greater potential target for an attack or energy security been as important.

It is indisputable that ensuring the reliable and uninterrupted supply of fuels and electricity is absolutely essential to our nation’s economy, security, and the health and safety of its citizens. However, as our energy infrastructure has become more complex and society has grown more dependent on this infrastructure, safeguarding it has become particularly challenging.

Recently reported high-profile attempts by foreign nations to infiltrate our nation’s energy sector, as well as a devastating year for natural disasters in 2017, highlight the need for preparing for and mitigating these real and growing threats. The security and reliability of our energy supply must be at the top of Washington’s agenda, or we could face serious costly and life-threatening consequences.

Since its inception, the Department of Energy (DOE) has performed a vital energy security mission to ensure the supply and delivery of fuels and power in emergencies. Over time, DOE has developed the information tools and technical capacity to respond to emergencies and develop advanced technologies to protect the nation’s energy infrastructure, especially against cyber threats. In recent years, Congress reemphasized DOE’s responsibility to respond to both physical and digital threats against our energy systems through the passage of the FAST Act of 2015. Of course, for DOE to effectively carry out its responsibilities, it must account for each interrelated segment of the nation’s energy infrastructure, including pipelines, which are subject to an array of other federal authorities.

This is why I introduced the Pipeline and LNG Facility Cybersecurity Preparedness Act to address this issue. This legislation requires the Secretary of Energy to establish a program to improve cooperation between federal agencies, states, and industry in order to ensure the safe and dependable flow of energy across the United States. This will help boost both the physical resiliency and cybersecurity of energy pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities.

The threat of damage from a disaster or an attack on our energy infrastructure  is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” Congress must act swiftly to provide DOE with the tools it needs to enhance preparedness and protections of our energy systems. It is time to enact legislation that confronts these threats and improves the resiliency and reliability of our nation’s energy infrastructure.