Trump issues executive order to protect power grid from attack
President Trump on Friday issued an executive order declaring a national emergency over threats to the U.S. power system, taking steps to defend the grid against cyberattacks and foreign interference.
The executive order bans the use of equipment for the power grid that was manufactured by a company under the control of a foreign adversary, or the buying of any equipment that poses a national security threat.
“Additional steps are required to protect the security, integrity, and reliability of bulk-power system electric equipment used in the United States,” Trump wrote. “In light of these findings, I hereby declare a national emergency with respect to the threat to the United States bulk-power system.”
The order also established a task force to protect the power grid from attacks and share risk management information to prevent interference. Members of the task force will include the secretaries of Commerce, Defense and Homeland Security, as well as the Director of National Intelligence.
Trump noted in the order that the power system is a target for those “seeking to commit malicious acts” against the U.S., pointing to concerns around cyberattacks in particular.
“A successful attack on our bulk-power system would present significant risks to our economy, human health and safety, and would render the United States less capable of acting in defense of itself and its allies,” Trump wrote.
Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette applauded the executive order, saying in a statement that it would “greatly diminish the ability of foreign adversaries to target our critical electric infrastructure.”
“Today, President Trump demonstrated bold leadership to protect America’s bulk-power system and ensure the safety and prosperity of all Americans,” Brouillette said. “It is imperative the bulk-power system be secured against exploitation and attacks by foreign threats.”
The order establishes the secretary of Energy as the official tasked with identifying equipment currently in use in the bulk power system that poses a risk, and working to take out and replace that equipment. The secretary is also in charge of creating a list of “pre-qualified” vendors that are deemed safe to work with.
The Department of Energy has stepped up its focus on protecting the grid from attacks in recent years. Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry established the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) in 2018 to help prepare and respond to threats.
The official CESER account tweeted Friday that the agency “stands ready” to help defend the bulk power system, adding that “malicious actors” have targeted the power system for the past decade.
Malicious actors have sought to leverage unauthorized access to the bulk power system against the U.S.for over a decade. At the direction of @SecBrouillette, CESER stands ready to work with its partners to secure the private and federal procurement of critical BPS components. https://t.co/7by42IZhd9
— DOE CESER (@DOE_CESER) May 1, 2020