Colonial Pipeline cyberattack: Republicans demand more action from Biden energy security
Former 'white hat' hacker Dave Kennedy weighs in on the suspected Russian group's ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline
The shutdown of a major fuel pipeline should be a wake-up call to the Biden administration that the U.S. needs to be investing more in oil and gas production and strengthening its ability to combat cyberattacks, according to several Republicans.
"This is critical infrastructure," said Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, whose district includes the oil-producing Permian Basin. "The industry of providing fuel to heat and cool homes to allow transportation to happen is critical infrastructure."
Pfluger hopes this attack helps the Biden administration rethink its "war" on fossil fuels and shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline. He also thinks the temporary shutdown may help Americans realize how the oil and gas industry powers their lifestyle and travel plans.
"I hope it's a wake-up call for Americans," Pfluger, an Air Force veteran, told Fox News.
"This just underscores and highlights exactly why we need energy independence and the dominance that we have as the No. 1 producer in the world," he said. "We cannot be dependent on other countries. In fact, we need more energy infrastructure, not less."
Rep. August Pfluger represents Texas's 11th congressional district and says America's energy independence is a national security issue. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack on Friday. The attack raised concerns, once again, about the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The fifth day of the pipeline shutdown is now having real-world effects on motorists, as some East Coast gas stations are experiencing long lines, price increases and fuel shortages.
North Carolina and Virginia have already declared a state of emergency due to fuel supply concerns. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urged people not to hoard gasoline in the meantime and said Colonial will be able to restart most of its operations by the end of the week.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., blamed the cyber attack on the weakness of President Biden’s administration and expressed concern about "a potential large-scale energy crisis" in his homestate of North Carolina.
In this image from video, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. Cawthorn has urged the Biden Administration to take every step needed to minimize and resolve the Colonial pipeline shutdown crisis. (House Television via AP)
"These types of ransomware attacks are indicative of a much larger national security risk to our nation’s infrastructure, and the importance of strong presidential leadership," Cawthorn said in a statement to Fox News. "The Biden Administration must finally step up and acknowledge that their weak stance on Russia has real-world consequences."
The FBI assigned blame Monday in the Colonial attack to DarkSide, a criminal syndicate whose ransomware was used to snarl pipeline operations. The group’s members are Russian speakers, and the syndicate’s malware is coded not to attack networks using Russian-language keyboards. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.
Asked Monday whether Russia was involved, Biden said, "I’m going to be meeting with President (Vladimir) Putin, and so far there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved, although there is evidence that the actors, ransomware, is in Russia."
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., makes two fists as she arrives before President Joe Biden speaks to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has been hitting Biden hard on his oil and gas executive orders that she blames for high gas prices and job losses. She said the cyberattack on the private company is now adding to the nation's "energy crisis."
"Joe Biden’s attack on American energy and American workers has led to skyrocketing gas prices," Boebert told Fox News. "Now, this administration’s weak leadership has invited hackers to attack American infrastructure, furthering our energy crisis. Biden’s lead-from-the-basement strategy is hurting American families."
The White House said this week that it is monitoring supply in parts of the Southeast and that President Joe Biden had directed federal agencies to bring their resources to bear.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.