Senate Republicans ask watchdog to probe Biden's cyber directives for pipelines

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Senate Republicans have requested an inspector general to investigate the Biden administration’s cybersecurity directives focused on pipelines due to concerns that the new rules may prioritize regulations over security.

Republicans are worried the Biden administration’s cyber directives for pipelines implemented through the Transportation Security Administration did not properly involve the industry it affects.

TSA has responsibility for the security of America’s pipelines. It moved quickly after a cyberattack on major U.S. fuel provider Colonial Pipeline earlier this year to establish new requirements for pipeline owners and operators.

Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Mike Rounds of South Dakota wrote to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asking for an immediate review of the administration‘s actions. They said the new security directives from the Biden administration “appear to depart from TSA‘s historically collaborative relationship with industry experts.”

“We believe that care must be taken to avoid unnecessarily burdensome requirements that shift resources away from responding to cyberattacks to regulatory compliance,” the Republicans wrote in their letter sent Thursday. “Unfortunately, we have received reports that TSA and [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] failed to give adequate consideration to feedback from stakeholders and subject matter experts who work in these fields and that the requirements are too inflexible.”

The lawmakers also noted that associations representing more than 2,700 companies in the oil and natural gas sector wrote to the TSA warning of inadequate consultation in August. The senators said that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is poised to issue cybersecurity directives for railroad and airport operators, but public reporting makes the senators fear that TSA may have “provided very little time for industry feedback.”

The senators requested the inspector general conduct a review and submit a report to them within 120 days. TSA said Friday it had no comment at this time.

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