Markey Seeks Executive Order on Grid Cybersecurity

Call comes in wake of Senate's failure to agree on broad cybersecurity legislation

In the wake of the
Senate's failure to pass cybersecurity legislation last week, Rep. Ed Markey
(D-Mass.) has asked the president to issue an executive order protecting the
electric grid from cyberattacks.

The primarily
Democrat-backed Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which would have established
cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure like the power system,
failed to overcome Republican opponents arguing the bill was too regulatory and
provided industry with insufficient flexibility to respond to threats.

a letter Wednesday to President Obama,
Markey said it was
"unconscionable" that Congress had failed to act on what should be a
nonpartisan issue.

"I'm calling on
President Obama to do by Executive Order what Congressional Republicans refuse
to do through legislation: protect our nation from the 21st century
cyber-armies preparing to wage war on our banking, health care, and defense
systems by knocking out America's electricity grid," said Markey in statement.

Evoking, without
actually citing, NBC's upcoming sci-fi drama, Revolution, Markey painted a picture in which "every single
piece of technology including computers, automobiles, and telephones sits idle
after being sapped of power," adding that the scenario "may sound
like the fall season's newest television show."

Republicans and
Democrats are in agreement on the threat of cyberattacks, but have failed to
come to a compromise on how to combat it. Republicans blocked a vote on the
bill, which could potentially return in modified form in September.

Markey is also
unhappy with in action on an electric-grid targeted bill, The GRID Act, which
made it to a unanimous House vote in the last Congress but has failed to gain
traction, which Markey attributes to successful utility sector lobbying.