Our national well-being relies upon secure and resilient critical infrastructure. As defined by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, “critical infrastructure describes the physical and cyber systems and assets that are so vital to the United States that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on our physical or economic security or public health or safety. The Nation’s critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin American society.”
In other words, critical infrastructure assets are what Americans rely on each and every day, whether they know it or not. Pipelines, electric power generation facilities, transmission towers, water systems, mining operations and transportation facilities such as trucking terminals are all critical to the functioning of our daily economic well-being. Many of these assets provide a quality of life that humans have only witnessed in the last few decades. We all take for granted the fact that the lights turn on in our homes, that the natural gas burns on our stoves or in our furnaces, that the water is clean as it comes out of our faucets and our waste is sanitarily disposed of by our treatment systems.
That’s why the protection of our critical infrastructure assets is so vital to the safety and security of our communities, state, and country. Damage to critical infrastructure can cause catastrophic results including loss of life, significant environmental damage, and severe economic instability across various industries. As our country feels the impact of the disruption to the global and domestic supply chains, the last thing any of us need is for another disruption to occur to the current infrastructure that we have.
Over the years, people have caused damage to these facilities for different reasons – maybe to make a political point, maybe to steal valuable material such as copper, or maybe just to cause acts of domestic terrorism. Whatever the reason, in Alabama, we are blessed to have an incredible network of critical assets and we must protect them. The penalty for damaging these assets should fit the crime.
Currently in the Alabama Legislature, a bill has been filed for the 2022 Legislative Session that will do just that. House Bill 21 will provide for further protections of these assets, and we urge the Legislature to pass this bill quickly. Many other states have already moved to do this, and Alabama should not be one of the last states to take a stand for the protections of our critical infrastructure assets.
George Clark is the president of Manufacture Alabama, the only trade association in Alabama dedicated to creating a business and political climate that promotes a positive, competitive environment and enhances the opportunity for growth of Alabama manufacturers. As president, Clark acts as CEO and principal for the organization.