Landrieu, Murkowski seek investigation of grid vulnerability leaks

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked the Department of Energy’s (DOE) inspector general to investigate possible leaks of sensitive data about vulnerability in the country’s electrical grid.

The senators cited a recent series of stories in The Wall Street Journal about grid vulnerability, which they said in their Thursday letter were “shocking in their detail and appear to have been based upon highly sensitive, narrowly distributed” information from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is part of the DOE.

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“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,” Landrieu, the committee’s chairwoman, said in a statement.

“Whoever is the source of this leak is clearly putting our nation at risk and we need to ensure that it does not happen again,” Murkowski said.

In one March story, the Journal disclosed an internal FERC report that found 30 “critical” electric substations, concluding that a coordinated attack could wipe out the country’s entire electrical grid. The newspaper did not disclose the list of the stations.

“Today’s publication by the Wall Street Journal of sensitive information about the grid undermines the careful work done by professionals who dedicate their careers to providing the American people with a reliable and secure grid,” FERC said at the time.

Landrieu and Murkowski asked DOE's inspector general, Gregory Friedman, to conduct “a full and thorough inquiry” regarding the apparent leak and how to prevent such disclosures in the future.

Felicia Jones, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, confirmed that her office received the letter from Landrieu and Murkowski. She said the office has been “working on this issue for weeks,” but declined to comment futher.