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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) released the following statement regarding the recently disclosed ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, a major component of U.S. critical energy infrastructure:

“Americans are about to start feeling the fallout from the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. A full shutdown of the pipeline that serves 50 million Americans is going to have severe implications for a long time,” said Risch. “The Department of Energy is responsible for responding to this attack, yet the administration still has not even put forward a nominee to lead CESER, its cybersecurity office. We need to prioritize hardening our cyber defenses and creating a comprehensive U.S. cybersecurity strategy. That begins with stepping up and filling the vacant assistant secretary role at CESER without delay.” 

Background: With senior positions on the Senate Energy and Intelligence committees, Risch is actively engaged on cybersecurity issues. During the 116th Congress, Risch and U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) introduced legislation to protect the U.S. energy grid, which was later signed into law as part of the FY 2020 NDAA.

In March 2021, Risch and King led a bipartisan letter urging Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to maintain the current leadership structure at the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and appoint an assistant secretary to lead the agency. 

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