Even if the high-voltage protective boxes around transformers are put into place and spare transformers are carefully held in storage until they are needed, the impact a solar flare or EMP would have on America is still extremely dire. Citizens, who have not put their generators, appliances, cell phones and basically anything else with electronic components and a cord into a Faraday cage will be living an Amish-style existence.
Are you prepared for life without power and quick trips to the grocery store? Do you have a six-month or even a one-month food supply on hand? Disaster happens without warning; neither Mother Nature nor enemies of America will wait until long-term food storage gets to the top of the “to do” list in order wreak havoc.
The Earth dodged a bullet in August 2014 when an electromagnetic pulse strong enough to take down the power grid sped through the planet’s typical orbit just ahead of us. Missile defense expert and High Frontier veteran Henry Cooper told the Washington Examiner the world escaped catastrophe when referencing the EMP near miss. Cooper couldn’t have been more correct, but sadly few paid any attention. Except for a few news segments over the past two years by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, television media has simply dismissed the idea of an EMP attack or a Carrington Event-size solar flare as pure prepper paranoia.
Cooper also recently noted that North Korea could already have the capability to initiate an EMP attack against America. According to the missile defense expert, North Korea tested a Space Launch Vehicle last December. The vehicle could reportedly launch a nuclear attack against the United States by orbiting the weapon at the South Pole, where missile interceptors and radars do not exist.
EMP attack threats were among the possible terrorism scenarios discussed with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during a Senate hearing last week. While the primary terrorist attack concerns revolved around both physical and cyber attacks by “radical Islamists” like ISIS, EMP threats were also a topic of conversation during the meeting.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson noted the power grid (i.e. electricity) is at the backbone of the nation and the need to preserve the country’s most vulnerable piece of infrastructure becomes even more important as the world relies more and more on information technology. The American Society of Civil Engineers handed down a “D+” grade to the power grid in the United States during an infrastructure review in 2013.
Security experts stated that the world is unprepared to withstand a catastrophic EMP attack in a related report earlier this year.
“I want to talk about something that I’ve been now briefed on, the threat of EMP attack,” Senator Johnson said during the Senate hearing with DHS officials. “Both in terms of the high-altitude nuclear blast, which was what I kind of always knew existed out there, and I guess kinda hoping that nobody has the capability or would be stupid enough to do it. But now I’m also aware of the fact that a massive solar flare also represents a real threat. Is it something we are looking to harden our electrical grid against.”
The SHIELD Act, a bill designed to attempt to harden the power grid from an Earth-directed solar flare or EMP attack, has been stalled in a Senate committee for several years. Republican Trent Franks introduced the legislation. National Protection and Programs Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security Under-Secretary Suzanne Spaulding told Senator Johnson that the DHS has “been focused” on working with electric sector private industry partners to “find ways to address” hardening the power grid against an EMP attack by countries like North Korea, Iran or Russia and solar flares.
“I was recently in the UK at an international conference, energy infrastructure security summit, where EMPs was a clear focus in those discussions. This is something that is very much on our radar screen that we are working to address,” Spaulding said. The assurance, without any particulars, has not calmed the fears of many Americans who are concerned about a power grid down event.
“The problem is not the technology. We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money; it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics, It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way,” said Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum.
The Congressional EMP Commission estimated that the power grid could be protected for about $2 billion — the same amount that American taxpayers fork over to Pakistan by way of foreign aid each year.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey said this about electromagnetic pulse threats:
“9/11 was a wake-up call that enemies of the United States were looking to launch massive attacks. What if the government in North Korea or Iran really thought that the world would be so much a better place and that they themselves would be so much more likely to go to heaven if they could just kill as many Americans as possible? These guys lust after mass destruction.”
Woolsey added the federal government was not seeing the big picture clearly. The former CIA director said that both China and North Korea present problems that the United States has still not fully grasped. He considers the rogue nation of North Korea extremely dangerous.
Heritage Foundation defense and strategic analysts urged Congress to develop, test and field United States defenses against EMP attacks, including enhanced ballistic missile defenses able to counter short-range missiles which carry EMP warheads.
Detonating a ballistic missile with an EMP head while still at a high altitude would allow energetic particles “released during the explosion” to “disable, damage or destroy all unhardened electronic devices within the line of sight of the detonation,” the analysts said in a report.
Although a decade has passed since the federal government realized there was no direct authority to deal with a downed power grid emergency, that problem has not been resolved. During the past three Congressional legislative sessions it has been suggested that the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) be granted the power to regulate power grid operations, but a vote has never been taken.
What do you think about power grid security and the potential for an EMP attack?
What do you need to help you and your family get prepared to survive an EMP attack or another type of power grid down scenario?
Here’s a basic checklist:
- Fuel storage
- Long-term food storage
- Power storage or renewable source
- Water purification kit and renewable source and/or water storage
- Grain mill
- Survival seeds
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