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Critical Infrastructure News

The world is gripped by an energy crunch — a fierce squeeze on some of the key markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels that keep the global economy running and the lights and heat on in homes. Heading into winter, that has meant higher utility bills, more expensive products and growing concern about how energy-consuming Europe and China will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rising energy costs are another pressure point on businesses and consumers already feeling the pinch of higher prices from supply chain and labor constraints.

The biggest squeeze is on natural gas in Europe, which imports 90% of its supply — largely from Russia — and where prices have risen to five times what they were at the start of the year, to 95 euros from about 19 euros per megawatt hour.

Read more: ABC News

Energy security is one of the central national security issues facing the United States and will be the pivotal challenge for the next decade and beyond. Nowhere is this issue more compelling than the electric power grid. The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress referred to the power grid as the “vital cornerstone of modern American society” (2014, p. ii). Widespread blackouts could likely lead to loss of life, serious injury, civil disorder, and significant economic loss. Much of modern life is directly connected to the need for electric power. This includes technology, communication, banking, commerce, and nearly every other component of our economy (Bakke, 2016). Even necessities such as water, food, and heat are adequately supplied only when the power flows. All the other critical infrastructure sectors and subsectors, including water, natural gas, fuel oil, chemical, transportation, public health, government, and defense, are dependent upon electricity to function effectively (Knake, 2017). The creation of a truly unified electric power grid will provide greater assurance that this critical resource will be available where and when it is needed.

Read more: HSToday

The Coast Guard is investigating whether a massive oil spill stretching from Laguna Beach to Huntington Beach off the coast of Southern California’s Orange County may have been caused by the anchor of a cargo ship catching and rupturing an offshore pipeline, sending 126,000 gallons of heavy crude into the Pacific.

Though a sheen on the water was first spotted and reported Friday evening, the Amplify Energy pipeline was shut down Saturday morning. The Unified Command led by the Coast Guard said Wednesday that 5,544 total gallons of crude oil had been recovered and 12,860 feet of containment boom had been deployed.

Read more: HS Today

Like many ravaging storms that came before it, Hurricane Ida exposed the fragility of Louisiana’s power grid, knocking out electricity to hundreds of thousands of people and businesses, including nearly all of New Orleans. It also laid bare growing doubts about the ability of the state’s largest energy provider to protect against the effects of climate change, including the increasingly destructive weather it causes.

The company, Entergy Corp., has told regulators and shareholders that it is committed to protecting the grid against extreme weather, having spent billions of dollars to upgrade towers, poles and lines.

But Entergy also has a history of resisting changes that would have made the electric grid more resilient, from developing new transmission lines to expanding solar power, according to an examination of regulatory filings and other public documents and interviews with industry researchers and clean-power proponents.

Read more: NBC News

Rescuers set out in hundreds of boats and helicopters to reach people trapped by floodwaters and utility crews mobilized Monday after a furious Hurricane Ida swamped the Louisiana coast and made a shambles of the electrical grid in the sticky, late-summer heat.

One of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland weakened into a tropical storm overnight as it pushed inland over Mississippi with torrential rain and shrieking winds, its danger far from over.

Ida was blamed for at least one death — someone hit by a falling tree outside Baton Rouge. But with many roads impassable and cellphone service knocked out in places, the full extent of its fury was still coming into focus.

The governor’s office said damage to the power grid appeared “catastrophic.” And officials warned it could be weeks before power is fully restored.

Read more: AP News