Pipeline Security Act Reintroduced in House

The entrance of Colonial Pipeline Company is shown Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.

The entrance of Colonial Pipeline Company is shown Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. Chris Carlson/AP

More than a dozen lawmakers have cosponsored the legislation following the Colonial Pipeline attack.

The House Committee on Homeland Security will markup legislation Tuesday geared toward codifying federal agencies’ roles in securing the nation’s oil and gas pipelines.

The Pipeline Security Act, introduced May 14 by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., and co-sponsored by a bipartisan cadre of more than one dozen lawmakers, would explicitly codify the roles of the Transportation Security Administration and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in securing critical infrastructure pipelines.

The bill—once introduced in 2020—received new life following the ransomware attack carried out on the IT systems of the Colonial Pipeline, which operates the largest refined gas pipeline in the nation. The attack caused the company to shut the pipeline down for several days, contributing to gas shortages and higher prices across parts of the nation.

“It’s become clear that cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure are national security and economic threats to the homeland,” Cleaver said in a statement. “The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which caused the shutdown of thousands of miles of gas pipeline along the East Coast, was just the latest example of why Congress must act swiftly to harden our critical infrastructure and bolster our cybersecurity capabilities.”

The legislation further requires TSA to produce a “personnel strategy” to properly fill out its security staff.

“With attacks of this nature on the rise, it’s more important than ever to strengthen our cyber resilience,” said Rep. John Katko, R-NY, the Homeland Security Committee’s ranking member. “Right now, we need to focus on building existing capabilities and resources while ensuring federal roles and responsibilities are clear. DHS and [Department of Transportation] are co-Sector Risk Management Agencies (SRMAs) for transportation systems, including pipelines, and should continue to run point, with TSA, CISA, and the U.S. Coast Guard continuing to play important roles.”