This Seems Obscure, But Needs Watching

We have just experienced a month-plus shutdown of the American economy (along with many Americans experiencing cabin fever and many children abruptly being home-schooled). It will take a while for the economy to open back up and recover. However, what we are currently experiencing is nothing like the disruption that would be caused by an electromagnetic pulse attack (also by a particularly strong solar flare). The American power grid is very vulnerable to attack from many sources. Our power grid provides power for the computers that route trucking, support supply chains, guide airplanes, keep grocery store coolers cold, etc. The power grid is all interconnected and computerized. It is an attractive target.

On May 1, Just The News reported the following:

The Energy Department said Friday that President Trump has banned the purchasing and installation of specific types of foreign gear for power plants and the transmission system. The move is a strategic effort to block the U.S. grid from falling victim to attacks from Russia and China.

The president’s executive order increases the secretary of Energy’s ability to prevent the use of select equipment that creates a national security risk. It also allows the secretary to determine which parts of the grid system are at risk and therefore in need of replacement.

Officials leading the effort will assess recent threats from abroad based on information from the U.S. intelligence community. They will then make a judgment on which elements of the power system need replacing. Agencies have been warning for several years that America’s electrical grid is an attractive and vulnerable target to foreign hackers.

This is a great move, but somehow electromagnetic pulse protection seems to be left behind.

In November 2019, Politico reported the following:

Turnover in President Donald Trump’s national security staff may be having a little-noticed side effect: Worries about nuclear weapons zapping America’s electric grid will return to the fringe.

Warnings about electromagnetic pulse attacks have long inspired eye-rolls or outright guffaws among national security experts, but advocates of the issue briefly found a home on Trump’s National Security Council, and the president himself issued an executive order on the topic in March. That respectability boom shows signs of fading, however, as those advocates leave the administration.

On Sept. 13, controversial physicist, self-declared climate skeptic and backer of the fight against EMPs William Happer left the White House. Three days earlier, Trump had ousted national security adviser John Bolton, who according to people close to the congressional EMP effort was also a backer of hardening power plants and the electric grid against the threat.

“With Bolton gone and some of the people he had brought in … this has disrupted the process,” said Peter Pry, executive director of the now-disbanded congressional advisory board that studied EMPs.

Trump’s executive order on March 29 was meant to aid coordination between the departments of Homeland Security, Energy and Defense, as well as numerous other federal agencies, to address the long-debated risk. The utility industry has resisted hardening the grid to EMP attacks because of the high cost of addressing what it considers an unlikely threat.

“The bureaucracy does not want this executive order,” Pry added, referring to the president’s order on EMP resilience. “What they’re trying to do is lowball the EMP threat … to such a level that basically industry will have to do little or nothing.”

I really don’t know if I should credit this bad advice to the deep state or just to general ignorance, but we need to get the emp protection program back up and running. This is an area where we are truly vulnerable to attack (or a natural phenomina such as a giant solar flare).

If Congress Lets This Slide, We May Face Serious Consequences

Today’s Washington Examiner reported that two weeks ago a massive solar flare narrowly missed hitting the earth. The “electromagnetic pulse”  (EMP) that was associated with the solar flare could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States.

The article reports:

Pry (Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008), Cooper, and former CIA Director James Woolsey have been recently demanding that Washington prepare the nation’s electric grid for an EMP, either from the sun or an enemy’s nuclear bomb. They want the 2,000-3,000 transformers in the grid protected with a high-tech metal box and spares ready to rebuild the system. Woolsey said knocking out just 20 would shut down electricity to parts of the nation “for a long time.”

But Washington is giving them the cold shoulder, especially the administration. Woolsey told Secrets that some in Congress are interested in the issue, but the administration is just in the “beginnings” of paying attention.

Thomas.gov (there is no specific link, as their links expire–just type in “electromagnetic pulse” in the Bill Summary blank) reports that H.R.2417, Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, was referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Power on June 21. It lists no further action.

We are playing Russian roulette here. Protecting our power infrastructure from an EMP is not very expensive and in the long run will prevent a log of human suffering. Not immediately acting on H.R.2417 is irresponsible. This should be an issue both political parties can agree on.

 

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