House committee clears bill to boost energy grid security

The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday that seeks to address security vulnerabilities in the nation's energy grid.

The legislation, which now heads to the House floor, would charge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the responsibility of identifying and addressing weaknesses in the country's energy delivery system.

The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act arrives at the behest of lawmakers and experts who fear hackers and other cyber-terrorists could easily de-stabilize the country's energy systems remotely, causing untold harm to both the federal government and the private sphere.

Closing those prospective security holes is crucial for Democrats, especially, if they hope soon to forge ahead with their plans to establish a Web-based "Smart Grid" that allows Americans to gauge their energy use.

“Right now, our electrical grid is vulnerable to threats from terrorists and hostile countries. Our adversaries have motive, intent, and the capacity to exploit these weaknesses,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and the bill's co-sponsor, following Thursday's 47-0 vote.

“Every one of our nation’s critical systems – water, healthcare, telecommunications, transportation, law enforcement, and financial services – depends on the grid,” Markey said in a statement stressing the legislation's importance.