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An Idaho National Laboratory power engineer examines breaker settings inside the yard of an electric substation.

Senators Raise Questions About Grid Vulnerability 'Leaks' to Media

'Recent reports in the Wall Street Journal about grid security were shocking in their detail...'

U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today called on the Department of Energy’s inspector general to examine the leak of sensitive internal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) information on potential physical vulnerabilities of the nation’s electric grid.

“Recent reports in the Wall Street Journal about grid security were shocking in their detail and appear to have been based upon highly sensitive, narrowly distributed FERC documents that may have pinpointed vulnerabilities of the electric grid,” the senators wrote in the letter to DOE Inspector General Gregory Freidman. “In the wrong hands, such documents potentially could provide a roadmap for those who would seek to harm the nation by intentionally causing one or more power blackouts.”

Landrieu and Murkowski, the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, requested the inspector general examine the legal or regulatory obligations of current and former FERC commissioners and employees to protect non-public information.

Landrieu: “As someone whose state has been struck by disasters – both natural and manmade – I understand the importance of protecting critical infrastructure. From public safety and communication to safe food and clean water, we rely on electric power to keep our society functioning. Any prolonged disruption to our power would be nothing short of a life-threatening and economic disaster. Leaks, like the one that lead to news reports detailing specific vulnerabilities to our power grid, are reckless and irresponsible and they put lives in danger. I urge the inspector general to conduct a swift and thorough investigation of this leak to find its source and prevent another such leak from occurring in the future.”

Murkowski: “The release of information about potential vulnerabilities of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure could provide a road map to those who wish to harm the United States,” Murkowski said. “Whoever is the source of this leak is clearly putting our nation at risk.”

The full text is available on the energy committee’s website.

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