Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to examine the potential cybersecurity threats currently facing our nation’s infrastructure.

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman Carper, and I want to thank all of the witness who are here and my colleagues, Senator King and Representative Gallagher, for being here with us today.

“We look forward to hearing from you today on the best ways to protect our physical infrastructure from cyberattacks—I think it’s a very timely hearing, as we’ve seen attacks here in the several months—how the federal government can partner with industry and state and local partners, and what gaps we have today that are leading to vulnerabilities. 

“This committee has a leading role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation’s core infrastructure systems and we are committed to being a strong federal partner in tackling the most challenging issues that cyber threats present.

“We must work together—and I think we will—to find solutions that will safeguard the whole of our core infrastructure systems, which include our water systems, port, inland waterways, and flood control infrastructure, and highways, bridges, and tunnels.

“The speed of advancing technology and the improvements this has on the day-to-day lives of all American’s is extremely positive in a lot of ways. We are working towards a more modern and connected transportation network.

“This does, however, create a level of urgency for implementing strong cybersecurity measures. 

“On our roads and bridges, vehicles and infrastructure are becoming more connected and smarter, with these types of advancements increased data and access to that data can result in safety and privacy threats.

“It opens our transportation system up to vulnerabilities that didn’t exist in the past.

“To help address these types of threats, our committee passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, in which we expanded eligibilities under the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) and the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) for cybersecurity protections, and added a requirement for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to develop tools to assist transportation agencies in protecting and recovering from cyber incidents. I think it’s important that we have the capacity—a lot of our local systems don’t have the capacity to really meet these challenges and need some assistance.

“These provisions will help to protect our highways, bridges, and tunnels against emerging cyber threats, protecting our critical transportation infrastructure.

“Cyberattacks are also a growing threat to our water and wastewater systems.

“We have seen a growing number of these systems fall victim to these attacks, which can have significant implications on public health and safety.

“These attacks are very scary for the public when they occur and can leave us questioning the safety of our water systems.

“I’m proud of the work this committee has done so far to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities in drinking water and wastewater systems.

“The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which passed out of this committee unanimously and was approved on the Senate floor by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 89-2, includes provisions that provide funding for protections against cybersecurity vulnerabilities to our water systems all around the country.

“Though I am proud of that work, there is more that needs to be done to address these vulnerabilities, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on ways the federal government can act as a better partner in protecting our drinking water and wastewater systems from cyberattacks, without costly mandates that can distract from the core mission of providing safe, reliable, and affordable water service to the American public.

“The physical infrastructure of our ports, inland waterways, and flood control systems are also potential targets for foreign adversaries and cyber criminals pursuing ransomware attacks.

“Hacking of these systems can harm our economy, and pose threats to human life, property, and the environment.

“Providing the tools to the government agencies, industry partners, and stakeholders responsible for protecting our critical infrastructure from cyberattacks is essential.

“Maintaining resiliency against cyber threats is also an ongoing, ever evolving process.

“It is not a one-and-done event and we cannot have blinders on when it comes to envisioning potential threats, because we know those threats change daily.

“Government agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, have been partnering with other agencies and local communities to address cybersecurity for the infrastructure they operate. 

“We need to continue to support training exercises and information sharing between agencies to protect our critical infrastructure such as the electrical grid, water systems, transportation systems, and emergency response systems.

“I expect that the committee will continue to include cybersecurity policies in our WRDA bill this Congress, as we have in our transportation and drinking and wastewater legislation.

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about best practices and key challenges facing the safety and security of our transportation systems and how we can work together towards protecting all American’s and our critical infrastructure through strengthened cybersecurity measures.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman."

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