Bipartisan legislation was reintroduced in the House on Jan. 11 to address the rise in cybersecurity threats and attacks against energy infrastructure in the United States.

Reps. Deborah Ross, D-N.C. and Mike Carey, R-Ohio, reintroduced the Energy Cybersecurity University Leadership Act to create a higher education program that will provide grants and financial assistance to students studying cybersecurity and energy infrastructure.

This bill is aimed at graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to both bolster the energy sector’s growing workforce and strengthen the nation’s ability to address future cyberattacks.

“Recent incidents, including the substation attack in Moore County, North Carolina, the ransomware attack on the Colonial Gas Pipeline, and an attempted water poisoning at a Florida treatment plant, are just a few examples of the threats that inspired this bipartisan legislation,” the press release said.

The bill addresses workforce and research needs by creating a grant program at the Energy Department that:

  • Provides financial assistance for scholarships, fellowships, and R&D projects at colleges and universities to support graduate students studying the convergence of cybersecurity and energy infrastructure;
  • Provides students and postdoctoral researchers with traineeship research experience at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and utilities; and
  • Expands outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

The legislation also requires the Secretary of Energy to submit a report to Congress on the development and implementation of the program.

“To confront growing cyber threats and attacks against our country’s critical energy infrastructure, we must make real investments in a strong and diverse workforce ready to meet any challenge,” Ross said. “This legislation will better equip our students and researchers in North Carolina and beyond to tackle growing cyber threats.”

The legislation was previously introduced during the 117th Congress, and it passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“The Energy Cybersecurity University Leadership Program will allow for Ph.D. and graduate students to dedicate their time to researching ways to bolster our national security and avoid large-scale power outages and attacks on our critical infrastructure,” Carey said. “I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with Congresswoman Deborah Ross and hope to see it passed in the 118th Congress.”

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