Good News From Washington

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 3410. According to Thomas.gov, on 12/02/2014 the bill was received in the Senate and read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

H.R. 3410 is the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act or CIPA.

Thomas.gov describes the Bill as follows:

Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Assistant Secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate to: (1) include in national planning scenarios the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events; and (2) conduct a campaign to proactively educate owners and operators of critical infrastructure, emergency planners, and emergency responders at all levels of government of the threat of EMP events.

Directs the Under Secretary for Science and Technology to conduct research and development to mitigate the consequences of EMP events, including: (1) an objective scientific analysis of the risks to critical infrastructures from a range of EMP events; (2) determination of the critical national security assets and vital civic utilities and infrastructures that are at risk from EMP events; (3) an evaluation of emergency planning and response technologies that would address the findings and recommendations of experts, including those of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack; (4) an analysis of available technology options to improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure to EMP; and (5) the restoration and recovery capabilities of critical infrastructure under differing levels of damage and disruption from various EMP events.

Includes among the responsibilities of the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) relating to intelligence and analysis and infrastructure protection to prepare and submit to specified congressional committees: (1) a comprehensive plan to protect and prepare the critical infrastructure of the American homeland against EMP events, including from acts of terrorism; and (2) biennial updates of such plan.

This is long overdue. Hopefully the Bill will pass quickly in the Senate–it is desperately needed–not only does EMP constitute a threat to our electrical grid, sunspots can also cause the same sort of disruption. If we protect the electrical grid from an EMP attack, it will also be protected from sunspots.

America’s most vulnerable target is her energy grid. Everything we do revolves around it–the storage and delivery of food, our traffic control, mass transportation, communication, and our medical facilities. We need to protect and secure that grid from natural and man-made attacks.

H.R. 2417

On June 18, 2013, Representative Trent Franks (AZ-8) introduced H.R. 2417. The latest title of the bill is “To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (“EMP“) threats and vulnerabilities.”

This is one of those bills that will not be important until we need it and don’t have it. What the bill does is protect the major parts of the American electrical grid from electromagnetic pulse (“EMP”). The United States became aware of the EMP during nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll during the 1940’s and 1950’s. After one of the nuclear tests, all of the traffic lights in Hawaii stopped working properly. An investigation began, and the concept of EMP was born.

EMP can happen naturally or it can be man-made. On June 18, the Center for Security Policy posted an article about the EMP threat.

In reporting on H.R. 2417, the Center for Security Policy states:

It’s no idle threat, either: in March 1989, the power grid in Quebec went from normal to shutdown in 92 seconds during a huge magnetic storm, according to a recent report by insurance giant Lloyds of London. It took 9 hours to restore normal operations, during which time five million people were without electricity. Total cost: about $2 billion.

The bill centers on protecting modern high-voltage transformers, which can weigh up to 400 tons, cost millions of dollars, and are made in only a handful of facilities in the U.S. A June 2012 report a June 2012 report by the Dept. of Energy called them a key failure point in the grid, citing volatile raw-material pricing – copper and electrical steel – and a lead time for manufacturing that can stretch to 20 months.

“It’s critical that we protect our major transformers from cascading destruction. The SHIELD Act encourages industry to develop standards necessary to protect our electric infrastructure against both natural and man-made EMP events,” Franks said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Shielding our major transformers would not be a great expense, and that shielding would prevent a much greater expense. H.R. 2417 needs to be passed and acted on quickly.

 

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