New legislation introduced in the House aims to increase U.S. expertise in energy infrastructure cybersecurity by authorizing Department of Energy (DoE) grants to expand education and training opportunities that are “the convergence of cybersecurity and energy infrastructure.”

The Energy Cybersecurity University Leadership Program Act was introduced on April 21 by Reps. Mike Carey, R-Ohio, and Deborah Ross, D-N.C., “to address a rise in cybersecurity threats against energy infrastructure in the United States.”

The bill would, among other steps, create the DoE grant program to fund:

  • “scholarships, fellowships, and R&D projects at colleges and universities to support graduate students studying” energy infrastructure security;
  • “traineeship research experiences” for students and postdoctoral researchers at DoE national laboratories; and
  • Expand outreach to historically Black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.

The bill would require the Energy Secretary to report to Congress on the implementation of the program within one year.

The size of the proposed DoE grant program was not immediately clear, nor was a copy of the bill available.

“Cyber threats on America’s energy sector have never been greater and must be met with urgent action to protect the critical infrastructure that makes modern life possible,” commented Rep. Carey. “Establishing the Energy Cybersecurity University Leadership Program will strengthen our resilience by further developing a high-skilled workforce with energy-specific cybersecurity expertise,” he said.

“To confront growing cyber threats against our country’s critical energy infrastructure, we must make real investments in a strong and diverse workforce ready to meet any challenge,” said Rep. Ross.

“I’m proud to represent much of the Research Triangle, home to institutions and universities that are propelling our nation’s innovation in cybersecurity and clean energy,” she said. “From NC State to Wake Tech, this legislation will better equip our brilliant students and researchers in North Carolina and beyond to tackle this changing cybersecurity landscape.”

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