Wednesday, June 17, 2020

S 3688 – Energy Infrastructure Security – Miscellaneous Provisions

This is the fifth in a series of posts about the introduction of S 3688, the Energy Infrastructure Protection Act of 2020. The earlier posts in the series were:

S 3688 Introduced – Energy Infrastructure Security
            S 3688 – Energy Infrastructure Security – Security Assistance to Energy Infrastructure
S 3688 – Energy Infrastructure Security – CEII disclosure authorization
In this blog post I will look at the last three sections that bill would add to the Federal Power Act:

§235. Designating information held by other governmental authorities,
§236. Wartime clearance,
§237. Enforcement and sanctions

Government Requests for CEII Designation

Section 235 establishes the procedures that will be used by eligible government entities to request the designation of information as Critical Electrical Infrastructure Information (CEII). In this section the term ‘eligible entities’ is defined as {§235(a)(1)}:

• A Federal, State, political subdivision, or Tribal authority [excluding DOE and FERC], and
• A utility owned or operated by 1 or more of the authorities above, including a joint action agency or similar entity.

While those agencies fall within the ‘any individual or entity’ terminology used in §231(c)(3)(B) authority to request CEII designation, requests under §235 require DOE or FERC, if they approve CEII designation, to apply that designation for 10 years, not the general period “the information is related to energy infrastructure in service” standard established under §231(c)(9)(A).

Paragraph (d) makes the requesting government entity responsible for the defense “against any claim for disclosure of the designated information” {§235(d)(2)}, not DOE or FERC.

Wartime Clearance

Section 236 allows DOE and FERC to loosen CEII disclosure rules “during the state of war or period of national disaster due to enemy attack” {§236(a)}. That loosening of disclosure rules is limited to the authority “to confer with individuals and grant individuals access to critical electric infrastructure information pending further investigation of those individuals”.


Section 237(a) provides that any entity that does not return an item of CEII within 90 days of a request by DOE or FERC will be subject to enforcement under 16 USC 825m, §825o, and §825o-1.

Section 237(b) requires DOE and FERC to establish appropriate sanctions for knowingly and willfully disclosing critical electric infrastructure information in a manner that is not authorized under this new subpart of the Federal Power Act. It specifically provides that the minimum sanctions for FERC Commissioner or former Commissioner who knowingly and willfully discloses CEII in an unauthorized manner will be {§237(b)(1)(A)}:

• The potential loss of access to critical electric infrastructure information; and
• The potential public issuance of letters of reprimand.

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