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Representatives Adams, Ross Urge House Leadership to Investigate Cyber-Attack on Colonial Pipeline

May 12, 2021
Press Release
Members request policies to prevent similar attacks

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswomen Alma Adams (NC-12) & Deborah Ross (NC-02) led the North Carolina Democratic delegation to request a full investigation into the May 7th cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Energy & Commerce, Transportation & Infrastructure, and Science, Space, & Technology Committees. Specifically, the letter calls for the inclusion of mandatory cybersecurity standards for our energy systems in the upcoming infrastructure package, especially for the millions of miles of pipelines which currently lack stringent mandatory security standards.

The Colonial Pipeline, a critical U.S. pipeline, delivers approximately 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, including a significant portion of the transportation fuels consumed in the State of North Carolina. The cyber-attack on the pipeline comes less than a year after Colonial’s estimated 1.2-million gallon gas leak in Huntersville in Rep. Adams’ district.

The letter said in part, “I write to request a full investigation into the May 7th cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline which caused the company to halt all pipeline operations over the weekend, and to urge you to prioritize policies that could prevent similar events from happening in the future. As a result of panic-buying, it has been reported that more than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast have run out of fuel, including nearly two-thirds of North Carolina’s nearly 5,400 stations. As of 11:45 am this morning, 72% of all gas stations in Raleigh, one of the largest municipalities in our state, had run out of fuel.”

The letter was signed by Representatives David Price (NC-04), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Kathy Manning (NC-06). The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Committee Chairs, and Ranking Members,

We write to request a full investigation into the May 7th cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline which caused the company to halt all pipeline operations over the weekend, and to urge you to prioritize policies that could prevent similar events from happening in the future.

This critical U.S. pipeline delivers approximately 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, including a significant portion of the transportation fuels consumed in the State of North Carolina. The indefinite shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline and national reporting on this cyber-attack have prompted fear of rising gas prices that has resulted in panic-buying of gasoline and diesel fuels across our home state. 

On Monday, May 10th, Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina and temporarily suspending motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure that adequate fuel supplies can be transported throughout the state. Yesterday, Governor Cooper spoke with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and other Department of Energy officials about the impacts of the cyber-attack. While we are encouraged by Secretary Granholm’s assurance that federal officials are working to quickly resume normal operations on the Colonial Pipeline, the disastrous effects of this attack remain evident throughout our state. 

As a result of panic-buying, it has been reported that more than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast have run out of fuel, including two-thirds of North Carolina’s nearly 5,400 stations. As of 11:45 am this morning, 72% of all gas stations in Raleigh, one of the largest municipalities in our state, had run out of fuel. We have heard reports from constituents across our districts of lines as long as a mile and wait times longer than 30 minutes to purchase fuel. Many of our constituents, such as those who work for delivery services, rely on access to motor fuels for their livelihoods. Because the Colonial Pipeline also transports jet fuel, American Airlines has already rerouted two flights from Charlotte, North Carolina, due to potential shortages of jet fuel supply. 

It is clear that the United States cannot afford to sustain similar attacks on our critical energy infrastructure in the future. As you consider policies to include in an upcoming infrastructure package, it is imperative to consider mandatory cybersecurity standards for our energy systems, including and especially for the millions of miles of pipelines which currently lack stringent mandatory security standards. 

Thank you for your consideration of these requests, and we stand ready to work with you and other partners at the federal level to ensure that we can avoid disasters like this in the future.

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