McCurdy Tells Senate Energy Committee, “We Need to Maintain Our Existing Cybersecurity Partnerships”

News Release April 04, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Delivering essential energy to homes and businesses throughout the United States safely and reliably is the top priority for America’s natural gas utilities. American Gas Association (AGA) President and CEO Dave McCurdy appeared today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at a hearing to examine efforts to protect U.S. energy delivery systems from cybersecurity threats. McCurdy, a former Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, testified that America’s investor-owned natural gas utilities are combatting cyber threats daily via skilled personnel, robust cybersecurity system protections, an industry commitment to security and a successful ongoing cybersecurity partnership with the Federal government.

McCurdy praised the industry’s longstanding and effective pipeline transportation security partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and a close working relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on general energy sector physical and cybersecurity. However, he cautioned that regulatory uncertainty could make us less safe.

“We need to maintain our existing security partnerships. Gas utilities maintain a pipeline security partnership with our statutory partner, the Transportation Security Administration. Industry also works closely with the Department of Energy on energy security. These vital non-regulatory partnerships are cooperative and support a more effective risk management approach to security. Further, disturbing the continuity of our security partnerships by reshuffling pipeline security authorities will not make us safer. It will simply add uncertainly to the mix,” McCurdy said in his testimony.

McCurdy outlined four critical realities for the committee:

  1. Industry commitment is strong, signified by awareness and vigilance at every employee level

  2. The importance that policy discussions surrounding gas-electric interdependency and coordination address the reliability of both the gas and electric systems in a coordinated manner

  3. The value of the longstanding and effective pipeline transportation security partnership with the DHS and TSA and the recognition that reshuffling pipeline security authorities will not strengthen industry security

  4. The need for better cybersecurity information from government partners delivered in real-time; quicker dissemination of classified threat information; and a closer working relationship with not only sector specific agencies (TSA and DOE), but the law enforcement and intelligence community

AGA member utility executives have signed onto the AGA Commitment to Cyber and Physical Security, demonstrating their dedication with a call to action to ensure natural gas pipelines remain resilient to cyber and physical security threats.

Also today, AGA and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation announced a new grid and energy delivery security information partnership that takes advantage of the growing interdependency and collaboration of the natural gas and electricity industries. Under the partnership, staff from the Downstream Natural Gas Information Sharing and Analysis Center (DNG-ISAC) will work at the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) in Washington, D.C., to improve coordination on potential security risks related to critical electricity and natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 73 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 69 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than one-fourth of the United States' energy needs.