• April 12, 2024

The Real Infrastructure Problem – WSJ

The economic damage from the cyberattack that shut down the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline – the largest fuel pipeline in the country – should be limited. But it’s a blatant reminder that cyber vulnerabilities in US power and other systems are the real infrastructure problem that President Biden should be addressing.

Colonial transports approximately 100 million gallons of refined produce from the Gulf Coast to New York Harbor every day, and provides nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel. The pipeline’s private operator said it learned Friday that it had been hit by a ransomware attack and “took certain systems offline to contain the threat.”

In ransomware attacks, criminals use computer code to take control of information systems and then blackmail companies to unlock them. Sometimes they also threaten to post confidential information on the Internet. According to the FBI, the criminal network DarkSide, believed to be based in Eastern Europe, carried out the attack.

Some media outlets are minimizing the attack by stating that DarkSide is only after money and allegedly does not blackmail schools and hospitals. Small consolation. Endeavoring to cause harm, these thieves have uncovered a tremendous vulnerability in the US energy system by tearing down a critical fuel artery.

Fortunately, there was a lot of fuel in the warehouse before the shutdown and the pipeline should be back online this week. In the meantime, however, gasoline has to be transported by truck, which is less efficient. Tankers temporarily store gasoline off the Gulf Coast. Transportation bottlenecks are already confusing supply chains, and shutting down the pipeline will not help.


However, this is the world the climate change lobby wants. The Biden administration should invest money in the containment of cyber vulnerabilities, but instead use the label “infrastructure” in order to reshape the energy industry, squeeze fossil fuels and make the grid more vulnerable, no less.

The almost week-long power outage in Texas in February showed how grid problems can cascade. After the freezing of wind turbines, gas-fired power plants could not compensate for the lost generation and the increasing demand from households with electrically operated heating devices. Some gas lines and compressors also froze or have been shut down because they depend on electricity.

Power outages also affected water treatment systems in Texas and swirled through the Midwest, which relies on Texas gas for electricity and heating. The outage has shown that the US grid is less reliable as it increasingly relies on intermittent renewables and natural gas to back them up. Nuclear and coal-fired power plants that provide base load electricity are being shut down due to environmental regulations and cannot compete with cheaper gas or subsidized solar and wind power plants.

The Energy Information Administration says 2021 could set a record for the most nuclear failures. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the shutdown last month of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which historically provided a quarter of the energy to New York City and Westchester. Now, fossil fuels – natural gas – will make up 93% of electricity capacity in New York State.

Mr Cuomo has severely affected the reliability of the network in New York and the Northeast by blocking pipelines to deliver more gas to power plants and to heat fuel to households. The result is that the region is increasingly reliant on gas compressors to move more fuel through pipelines. Pipelines and compressors are vulnerable to bad weather and cyberattacks.

The Department of Homeland Security reported in February 2020 that a ransomware attack shut down a natural gas compressor plant for two days without saying where. An attack on the gas infrastructure in winter can cause more damage if more coal and nuclear power plants are shut down.

This will be evident to hackers off the coast, whether they are independent criminals or state-affiliated groups. Russia’s foreign intelligence agency may have received more clues about America’s cyber vulnerabilities than its proxies got in


Software and stolen information from government agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.

Many utilities and energy companies also use SolarWinds. The US government could help companies harden their information systems, but the risks to infrastructure will increase unless the US makes the energy system more resilient and redundant. That won’t happen with Mr. Biden’s 500,000 new EV charging stations and solar panels on the roof in every house.

Just the opposite. The grid and other infrastructures become more vulnerable as more systems are electrified and connected. The Government Accountability Office warned in March that solar panels, electric vehicle chargers and “smart” devices that are remotely controlled by companies are creating new entry points for cybercriminals to take over the grid.

Defending the US against cyber attacks is the Biden administration’s primary infrastructure task, but that is exactly what its $ 2.3 trillion proposal would not do.

Main Street: Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ridiculous tirade targets former Attorney General William Barr, underscoring the great liberal frustration that Special Adviser President Trump has failed to overthrow. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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