Expert Voices

Cybersecurity threats to U.S. gas pipelines call for stricter oversight

natural gas pipeline crossing mountain valley
A natural gas pipeline in Colorado. Photo: Jerry Cleveland/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Foreign enemies are increasingly launching cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, including energy facilities. To protect against attacks that could compromise electric service, grid operators must comply with mandatory standards overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Yes, but: The U.S. has no comparable standards for its network of pipelines. As abundant and affordable natural gas has become a major part of the fuel mix, the cybersecurity threats to that supply have taken on new urgency.

Expert Voices

Lower EPA fuel efficiency standards threaten U.S. energy dominance

traffic jam on highway outside Chicago
Chicago traffic. Photo: Patrick Gorski / NurPhoto via Getty Images

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a draft plan to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles. If approved by President Trump, the policy will create a conflict with California and the 12 states that follow its rules. They will likely keep the current tighter standards on the books while other states opt to follow the new, weaker rules.

Why it matters: The fuel economy standards for automobiles were a key pillar in the U.S. pledge to reduce greenhouse gases to 26–28% of 2005 levels by 2025 under the Paris Agreement. They would provide carbon savings equivalent to 272 million tons of CO2.

Expert Voices

Texas meets grid challenge during record-breaking energy demand

A natural gas power plant outside Dallas. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A natural gas power plant outside Dallas. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ERCOT, the electricity grid that serves most of Texas, delivered more power on Wednesday than it ever had, only to deliver even more on Thursday, setting a new system-wide peak demand record of 73,259 megawatts. Friday’s demand is forecasted to be even higher, but the worst might not come until Monday.

Why it matters: The Texas grid is an energy-only market, which, unlike capacity markets, pays power plants only when they produce energy. This summer has been seen as a make-or-break test for this market strategy, and so far it is passing.