In a stunning move that piggybacked on the revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit, President Biden suspended Executive Order 13920 for 90 days under a new Executive order entitled “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” Section 7 of this new order directs The Secretary of Energy and the Director of the OMB to “jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued” for EO 13920, which was issued by President Trump in May of 2020. This order ensured that the U.S. power grid was not vulnerable to attacks through software or hardware backdoors embedded in bulk-power supply equipment produced by hostile foreign nations.
Specifically, the 2020 executive order aimed to protect America’s bulk power supply by placing restrictions on the procurement of equipment and systems that provide power to the U.S. The order states that any use of bulk-power system equipment “designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied, by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary” is prohibited. Under a subsequent Request for Information (RFI), the U.S. Department of Energy clarified that China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea are, in fact, foreign adversaries to the United States under this order.
By suspending this rule, the government is free to procure power equipment from China, or U.S. companies operating manufacturing facilities in China, who are the only nation on the list currently engaging in mass production of electronics, manufacturing equipment, and other forms of technology like software, circuits, and instrumentation. The Biden Administration suspends this protection at the same time that our reliance on foreign oil is increasing due to bans on new domestic energy production—put in place a mere 48 hours after President Biden’s entry into the White House. This presents an additional risk to America’s already fragile power grid by allowing potential bad actors within the Chinese Communist Party to covertly access power systems within the United States.
No stranger to controversy, the Chinese government came into the U.S. government’s crosshairs just one short year ago when it was discovered that Chinese tech company Huawei was accessing American communications via backdoors into mobile networks. On Friday, the company released comments by founder Ren Zhengfei praising the U.S. as a “beacon of technology.” There is no word yet on protecting our communications infrastructure from the CCP from The Biden Administration.
More Trump-era executive orders are expected to be suspended or revoked in full within the first 100 days of President Biden’s term.