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Sen. Charles Schumer: End Power Companies' Veto Rights On Security Measures

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Sen. Charles Schumer warned Sunday that an attack last year on a California power plant proves that terrorists could take down whole stretches of the U.S. power grid. But the New York Democrat said that power companies now have the right to veto proposed security requirements.

Schumer is calling for the federal energy regulator and the Department of Homeland Security to draft tougher new security standards overseen by Congress that would end the industry's veto rights. Schumer has written a letter to both agencies requesting officials to consider such a change.

Last April, multiple snipers shot down 17 transformers at a Silicon Valley plant, firing outside security perimeters. The attack nearly brought down power to all of Silicon Valley. The perpetrators are still at large.

"Sometimes we take it for granted, but our entire way of life is dependent on the reliability of our power plants and our electric grid," Schumer said in a news release. "It powers our homes and keeps the lights on at our businesses. Any potential weakness in this critical infrastructure is troubling and should be addressed immediately. The fact that these snipers were able to inflict so much damage -- and that they are still out there -- means we need to re-think the way we implement security measures at our power plants.

"This is not something that we can rely on the utility industry to do. Instead, we need DHS to bring its security expertise to the table, and FERC to bring its energy expertise, to devise tough security measures that will shield our power plants from this type of brazen attack moving forward."

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