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Bucshon says Congress can play a role in preventing future blackouts

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon says Congress can help harden the nation’s power grid against future storms, though cyberattacks pose a greater threat overall.

Bucshon’s comments came after utility companies completed a roughly five-day effort to turn the power back on following last week’s derecho in the Midwest.

In an interview for Sunday’s “All INdiana Politics,” he says cyberattacks and physical attacks against the grid pose a graver risk and thus should be a greater priority for the federal government. He cited the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack that led to gas shortages for days along the east coast and the December 2022 attacks that led to dayslong blackouts in Moore County, N.C. Still, he says, the feds can provide support for hardening the grid against storm damage.

“It’s pretty hard to avoid the storms, but everywhere that we can clear away the trees and other things like that that can cause trouble, and also where we can bury power lines, will be important, and, yes, the federal government does have a role, absolutely,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law included about $5 billion for various projects to harden the grid. Bucshon voted against the law. He told News 8 he agreed with 80% of it, including improvements to the energy grid, but accused Democrats of throwing in unrelated projects to force Republican “no” votes.

This week saw record global average high temperatures on three consecutive days. Bucshon, who serves on the House Energy Subcommittee, says he doesn’t believe Republicans’ all-of-the-above approach to energy has made the United States too slow to transition away from fossil fuels.

He says the problem is wind and solar energy haven’t proven reliable enough to replace fossil fuels for the purposes of providing base load on the grid. Renewables, however, performed equally well or better than fossil fuels during the 2021 cold snap in Texas and the 2020 heat wave in California.

NATO leaders will gather for a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week. Bucshon says NATO and the United States should continue to support Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces, but he draws the line at offering the country NATO membership. He says Ukraine still doesn’t meet the standards other NATO countries must meet, particularly on corruption, although he says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making progress combatting it.

“If (Russian forces) step into a NATO country, then American men and women are on the ground and we don’t want that,” he said.

“All INdiana Politics” airs at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on WISH-TV.