The U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment authored by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) to protect critical infrastructure, such as electric grids, from cyberattacks. The bipartisan measure was included in H.R. 3494, the bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2018, fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020.

Ruppersberger’s amendment was inspired, in part, by a 2015 attack on the Ukrainian grid orchestrated by the Russians that affected more than 225,000 citizens. Since, according to a Ruppersberger press release U.S. “enemies have doubled down on their efforts to target cybersecurity weaknesses in our nation’s energy infrastructure, especially within industrial control systems.

“A sophisticated cyberattack could have disastrous consequences on the public health, safety and economic security of all Americans,” Ruppersberger said. “We can’t wait any longer to address the vulnerabilities we inherently create when we rely on complicated digital software systems for everyday basics like electricity and running water. This measure will help us both discover security gaps in our energy grid and keep an eye on emerging threats that could disrupt electricity generation or even cost lives.”

The bipartisan amendment was co-sponsored by Congressman John Carter, a Republican from Texas. It mirrors language already passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate’s Intelligence Authorization Act and …

● Sets up a 2-year pilot program to identify new classes of security vulnerabilities in the energy grid and test technologies that could be used to isolate critical systems from cyberattacks.

● Establishes a working group including government agencies, the energy industry and other experts to evaluate the technology solutions proposed by the pilot program.

● Requires the Department of Energy to report the results of the program to Congress.

The Intelligence Authorization bill ensures that the 16 intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI and NSA, have the resources, authorities and proper oversight they need to keep our nation safe.