OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Fault lines on power grid cybersecurity

Joseph McClelland, FERC director of office of electric reliability, believes NERC is acting too slowly to defend the electric system from cyber attacks. He will testify at Tuesday’s hearing.
Gerry Cauley, president and CEO of NERC, has pushed forward with stronger cybersecurity standard proposals in recent months, which most of NERC’s members have resisted. He will also testify.

The hearing arrives as the path ahead on federal legislation remains highly uncertain. Republicans want to keep even voluntary benchmarks for those networks out of any cybersecurity bill, fearing those metrics will serve as a stalking horse for enforceable rules.

But many Democrats and some GOP lawmakers think the networks are too important for both public safety and the economy to ignore them in cybersecurity legislation.

The House passed cybersecurity legislation, H.R. 3253, in April.

A Senate bill, S. 2105, has yet to be called for a vote, while Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseJuan Williams: Momentum builds against gerrymandering Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE (D-R.I.) are working to piece together a separate compromise proposal. 

The main hang-ups in the Senate include the role of the Department of Homeland Security, whether to include critical infrastructure networks and concerns about civil liberties.

Something we’re watching ...

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will rule as soon as Tuesday on challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which demands cuts to smog-forming and particulate pollution from power plants that affects eastern states.


Fracking: The Obama doctrine

President Obama used an Ohio campaign stop Monday to offer plenty of cheers for natural-gas development through “fracking” but warned, “we haven’t established clear guidelines for how to do it safely.”

Obama, campaigning in a swing state where fracking could become widespread, had this to say when touting his support for expanded drilling:

Now, you always hear these arguments that somehow there’s this huge contradiction between the environment and economic development, or the environment and energy production. And the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of folks right now that are engaging in hydraulic fracking who are doing it safely. The problem is, is that we haven’t established clear guidelines for how to do it safely, and informed the public so that neighbors know what’s going on, and your family, you can make sure that any industry that’s operating in your area, that they’re being responsible.

The White House has convened a multi-agency task force to oversee oil-and-gas development enabled through fracking. The Interior Department is crafting rules to govern chemical disclosure and other aspects of fracking on public lands, while EPA recently completed new air pollution rules.

Obama on Monday vowed to work with industry on creating “best practices” and invest in research to ensure fracking safety, and also said “irresponsible” companies would be held “to account.” Here’s more from his remarks in Cincinnati:

And that’s how we should develop this incredible resource — which, by the way, if we do it properly, could end up changing the economics and politics globally of energy in a way that's actually very good for us, because we'll be less dependent on what happens in the Middle East and our economy will be less subject to the kinds of spikes that we saw earlier in the spring in terms of gas prices.

Federal officials to talk alt-fuels, vehicles

Several senior Obama administration officials will appear before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel Tuesday afternoon for a hearing on alternative fuels and vehicles. More info, including the testimony, is here.

Transportation and green energy in focus

The American Council on Renewable Energy will hold a “Transportation and Renewable Energy Forum” Tuesday with speakers including Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. More here.


Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Monday and over the weekend ...

- Republicans keep 'activist' EPA in crosshairs
- Wind power advocates fear Romney will slow industry
- GOP leaders slam door on carbon taxes
- Republicans plan vote to ease rules on illegal timber
- Apple: Withdrawing green certification a 'mistake'
- Fed agency: June was fourth-hottest on record worldwide
- Interior spokesman joins Obama campaign
- White House holds 'pep talk' on biofuels

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, zcolman@thehill.com.

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