Energy secretary says adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid

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(CNN) — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday warned in stark terms that the US power grid is vulnerable to attacks.

Asked By CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” whether the nation’s adversaries have the capability of shutting it down, Granholm said: “Yeah, they do.”

“There are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally,” she said, adding, “It’s happening all the time. This is why the private sector and the public sector have to work together.”

The secretary’s warning comes amid a rise in ransomware attacks in America’s public and private sectors in the recent weeks, creating a sense of urgency in the Biden administration on how to confront cyber vulnerabilities. The issue will take an outsized role during President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip this week, during which he is set to talk with European leaders and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.

Last week, the White House issued a letter to companies calling on them to take the threat of ransomware attacks more seriously, following back-to-back attacks by Russian hackers against the Colonial Pipeline Company last month and the JBS meatpacking plant.

Granholm on Sunday also expressed frustration over infrastructure negotiations, which appeared to hit a wall on Friday after the White House rejected the GOP’s counteroffer that included nearly $50 billion increase in spending.

“This has got to be done soon. And without putting a specific date on it. You noted they talked on Friday. They’re going to talk on Monday,” she told Tapper when asked how long the administration would continue talks with Republicans. “The thing is, it’s just a bit perplexing why the Republicans haven’t moved further on critical pieces.”

A bipartisan group of senators have been working on a separate proposal that they could unveil as soon as this week, according to sources familiar with the effort. Granholm told Tapper that the President would be willing to meet with the group.

“He is willing to meet with anyone who will help to move this forward, you know the clock is ticking. There is an end point to this discussion,” she said.

This story has been updated with additional details Sunday.