Schumer: ‘Gun-toting terrorist’ could take down power grid

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for federal security standards to be implemented at major power plants after a report showed a group of terrorists armed with rifles was almost able to take down part of the nation's power grid.

“Any potential weakness in this critical infrastructure is troubling and should be addressed immediately,” Schumer said. “This is not something that we can rely on the utility industry to do.”

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On Tuesday, Schumer said Congress could give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the power to draft and enforce tougher security standards even over industry objections.

“We need DHS to bring its security expertise to the table, and FERC to bring its energy expertise, to devise tough security measures that will shield our power plants from this type of brazen attack moving forward,” Schumer said.

Schumer said multiple snipers took down 17 transformers at a Silicon Valley power plant last spring — while standing outside the security perimeters — which nearly resulted in a massive outage in the area. He said the perpetrators still haven’t been caught.

“The fact that these snipers were able to inflict so much damage — and that they are still out there — means we need to rethink the way we implement security measures at our power plants,” Schumer.

Currently, security measures are industry regulated, but Schumer said that has resulted in inadequate protections.

“Sometimes we take it for granted, but our entire way of life is dependent on the reliability of our power plants and our electric grid,” Schumer said. “It powers our homes and keeps the lights on at our businesses.”