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Obama signs Executive Cybersecurity Order

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In last evening's State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged his commitment to advancing clean energy and investments in domestic energy.

"No area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future," the President said.

While many can hardly disagree with the sentiment expressed by President Obama, it must be backed by something more concrete.

America's energy future requires a commitment to modernize infrastructure, manage risk, and safeguard the environment, as climate change threatens to bring continued extreme weather events. The Administration and Congress should support sound policies that promote energy efficiency, low- and zero-carbon energy sources and technologies; the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector; new energy storage technologies to meet the needs of an increasingly diversified energy mix; and the expansion of smart grid and infrastructure investments.

President Obama recognized the rapidly growing threat of cyberattacks in his address.

"…our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy," he said.

So, earlier in the day, Obama took steps to ensure the country's energy security by issuing a long awaited and anticipated order to improve the cybersecurity of the nation's critical infrastructure such as water and power.

Power outages cost more than $130 billion dollars annually and leave utilities and the nation vulnerable to outside threats. The Executive Order will strengthen the nation's cyber defenses by increasing information-sharing and developing standards to protect national security. For example, the Department of Homeland Security will work with the Department of Energy and the Sector Coordinating Councils that represent industry to develop a program to assist companies with implementing the Cybersecurity Framework and to identify incentives for adoption.

"But now…Congress must act, as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks," President Obama said in his Address.

The Edison Electric Institute agrees, stating, "The Executive Order represents another step toward improving government-industry coordination, but does not preclude the need for congressional action to address statutory changes that will improve information sharing and access to classified information that the private sector needs to serve as the first line of defense in the protection of its critical infrastructure."

As usual, one thing is clear -- the actual next steps toward cleaner energy and a more secure grid are still unclear.  --Barb