Tag Archives: Electromagnetic Pulse

Ignoring the Issues That Matter, Part 2

What are the most important challenges and issues facing America—and why do politicians and pundits ignore them? We  concludes our review this vital topic.

Consistently, the most important challenges facing the American people are covered inadequately  by most media sources. Yesterday, we examined inaccurate coverage of national defense. Today’s report looks at Social Security, Medicare, health care, education, and the problems facing the middle class. 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. Social Security and Medicare are frequently and mistakenly called “entitlements,” lumping them in with a variety of assistance programs.  That is incorrect.  Working Americans pay for these benefits throughout their working lives, and depend on them when they reach their senior years. But all those dollars taken from paychecks are not put into an account with the workers name on them.  They are simply mingled with all other government income. And, both programs are going broke.

A Time Money report reports: “How worried should you be over Social Security’s future? According to the most recent Annual Report of the Board of the Social Security Trustees…After 2019, Treasury will start spending down the fund; its reserves are estimated to be depleted by 2035.”

Much the same can be said about Medicare. Modern Health Care reports that  “The Medicare trust fund will be insolvent by 2028, according to the 2016 Medicare trustees’ report released [in 2016].”

The fiscal health of both of those programs are vital, but far too many politicians are frightened of doing anything to remedy the problem.

MIDDLE CLASS DESPERATION. As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government recently reported, middle income Americans are losing ground. In December, 2015, Pew Social Trends reported “…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.” Pew Social Trends also reported that “From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally.”

THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS. America’s health care system was demonstrably superior to those of other nations, but it did have flaws. Obamacare, advertised as a means to address those flaws, actually made matters worse. Examples:

  1. Lost plans. Sen. Ben Sasse released a report about Obamacare’s effects on competition among insurers, concluding that outcomes have worsened for most Americans, in terms of choice of insurers and plans. Over the past year, the number of insurers offering plans in exchanges has dropped by nearly 6%.Many states have lost more than 80% of their insurers: Alabama went from 23 to 3, Arkansas went from 24 to 4, and Wyoming from 21 to 1, just to name a few. Only New York did not lose over half of its insurers, going from 28 to 15 insurers, a 46% decline.
  2. Higher premiums. report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust found that, since 2008, average employer family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865. From 2015 to 2016 the most popular exchange family plan, Family Silver, saw a 10% average increase in its premiums. In some states, premiums rose by nearly 40%.In 2015 the average annual family premium was $17,545 per year, and the average premium for a single policy was $6,251. Young men were particularly hard-hit. Average premiums rose by 49% from 2013 to 2014, the year Obamacare was supposed to go into effect.
  3. Higher deductibles. The New York Times, long a cheerleader for Obamacare, reported that many people can’t afford to use the health insurance that they have purchased because of the deductibles .New York Times reporter Robert Pear wrote that the median deductible in Miami was $5,000 in 2015. It was $5,500 in Jackson, Miss., and $4,000 in Phoenix. One Chicago family of four paid $1,200 monthly for coverage yet had an annual deductible of $12,700.
  4. High costs. The Office of the Actuary of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has projected that Obamacare will result in an additional $274 billion in administrative costs alone over the period of 2014 through 2022.

Obamacare is collapsing in a whirlpool of skyrocketing premium costs, vanishing choices, and deductibles so high as to make the coverage more an illusion than a reality.

EDUCATION. Despite spending more pupil than just about every other nation, America’s students have fallen behind their international peers. U.S. employers find that far too many are ill-prepared for the job market. Their lack of knowledge in the basics of science, math, American history and civics bode ill for the future.  The nation stands to lose much if not all of its leadership in technology, economy, and the very essence of its being within just a few short years.  Yet there is little movement to address this fundamental threat to the nations’ future.

There are solutions

None of these issues are insolvable.  In fact, some are readily correctable.

  • The nation’s electrical grid can be protected for less than $10 billion.
  • President Reagan faced a similar defense challenge when he took office. His increased spending on national defense actually discouraged America’s main adversary at the time, the Soviet Union, and commenced several decades of relative peace and prosperity between superpowers. The same can be done again.
  • The policies that have slashed middle class jobs, including favorable treatment for China, tax policies that encouraged corporations to take jobs overseas, and Obamacare policies that actually reward companies for replacing full time jobs with part-time positions are solvable through legislation.
  • Federal spending on anti-poverty programs that have failed to reduce poverty could be redirected to Social Security and Medicare.
  • The authority to determine school curriculum can be removed from the self-interested government bureaucrats, teachers’ unions, and the educational hierarchy and put back to where it belongs—in the hands of parents, organized into appropriate formats.

North Korea’s Credible Threat to Destroy U.S., Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the EMP threat from North Korea. 

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency report, which concentrated on cyber attacks but could also apply to EMP, has noted that America’s electrical grid and associated control systems are vulnerable to various forms of attack.  Since the late 1990’s…cost pressures have driven the integration of conventional information technologies into these independent industrial control systems, resulting in a grid that is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attack, either through direct connection to the Internet or via direct interfaces to utility IT systems…”

A Daily Mail article  warns that “North Korea could be preparing an EMP strike on the US with two satellites already orbiting above America [with] two…earth observation satellites, launched in 2012 and 2016Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security in America, warned that North Korea is positioning its satellites in a ‘nuclear missile age, cyberage version’ of battleship diplomacy ‘so that they can always have one of them (satellites) very close to being over the United States or over the United States’. Pry, also chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, told Breitbart‘s Aaron Klein: ‘Then if a crisis comes up and if we decide to attack North Korea, Kim Jong Un can threaten our president and say, ‘Well, don’t do that because we are going to burn your whole country down.’ Which is basically what he said.

The Pew Trust notes that “Congress has commissioned reports and held hearings over the years on bills focused on protecting the grid from such catastrophic disturbances, but it hasn’t taken any action. So a number of state legislators have decided to file their own grid-related measures, and in some cases, the legislation has been adopted. ‘This is an area in which we are extremely vulnerable. It’s a real problem. What if the power doesn’t come back on?’ said Virginia Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves, who sponsored a measure that passed last year mandating a legislative commission to study the issue and come up with ways to protect against such threats.”

While there have been numerous warnings and concerns, very little action has actually been taken. A General Accounting Office  study notes: “Since 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken actions such as establishing industry standards and federal guidelines, and completing EMP-related research reports. GAO found that their actions aligned with some of the EMP Commission recommendations related to the electric grid. For example, DHS developed EMP protection guidelines to help federal agencies and industry identify options for safeguarding critical communication equipment and control systems from an EMP attack. Further, agency actions and EMP Commission recommendations generally align with DHS and DOE critical infrastructure responsibilities, such as assessing risks and identifying key assets…

“DHS has not identified internal roles and responsibilities for addressing electromagnetic risks, which has led to limited awareness of related activities within the department and reduced opportunity for coordination with external partners…Within DHS, there is recognition that space weather and power grid failure are significant risk events, which DHS officials have determined pose great risk to the security of the nation. Better collection of risk inputs, including additional leveraging of information available from stakeholders, could help to further inform DHS assessment of these risks. DHS and DOE also did not report taking any actions to identify critical electrical infrastructure assets, as called for in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. Although FERC conducted a related effort in 2013, DHS and DOE were not involved and have unique knowledge and expertise that could be utilized to better ensure that key assets are adequately identified and all applicable elements of criticality are considered. Finally, DHS and DOE, in conjunction with industry, have not established a coordinated approach to identifying and implementing key risk management activities to address EMP risks.”

Recognition of the long-standing lack of action resulted in an Executive Order issued by President Trump four days after his inauguration, which provides an expedited process for “crucial infrastructure projects.”  The Order specifically notes: “it is the policy of the executive branch to streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially projects that are a high priority for the Nation, such as improving the U.S. electric grid…”

North Korean Threat, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its report on North Korean threats

Hwang Sunghee, writing in the authoritative Spacewars site  notes that “A senior US defense official said last month that the North has developed the capability to pair a nuclear warhead with a missile and launch it.” According to the report, targeting appears to be the only remaining obstacle.

The danger posed by North Korea is magnified by the deep nuclear and technological relationship it possesses with Iran, and Pyongyang’s willingness to transfer its military assets to unsavory forces throughout the world.

North Korea has been under United Nations sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear program. It has reneged on arrangements similar to those reached with Iran by the Obama Administration.

In May, Michael Elleman and Emily Werk noted this for the Arms Control Association:

“In January 2011, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates mused that “North Korea will have developed” an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2016, with the caveat that the arsenal would be small with limited operational capability. Five years later, in 2016, there still is hope that the United States and its Asian allies can prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear-capable ICBM. Pyongyang, however, is not cooperating. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, with Kim Jong Un boasting that it had exploded a hydrogen bomb. A month later, it successfully lofted a satellite into orbit using a large, long-range rocket. Then in March, North Korea unveiled a mock-up of a miniaturized nuclear bomb and performed two separate missile-related ground tests. The first test simulated the conditions a warhead would experience during re-entry into the atmosphere to evaluate the thermal protection technologies. The other was a stationary firing of a large, solid-fueled rocket motor.”

Last March, reports Bill Gertz in the Free beacon, “North Korea ..developed a new long-range mobile intercontinental ballistic … The new missile is called the KN-14 by the Pentagon…Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center who has studied the two missiles’ Chinese launchers, said Russia has estimated the KN-14 could have a range between 5,000 and 6,200 miles.

According to a Washington Times  article by former CIA chief James Woolsey James Woolsey,  former and  Peter Vincent Pry executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, “The public is being misled by the White House, some so-called ‘experts’ and mainstream media casting doubt” on the extent of the North Korean threat.

Woolsey and Pry report that “defense and intelligence community officials warn North Korea probably already has nuclear armed missiles. The Defense Department’s 2016 report “Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea” warns that, in addition to medium-range missiles, they have six KN-08 mobile nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can strike the U.S. mainland.Recently, the Pentagon warned North Korea rolled out a new longer-range ICBM, the KN-14, that can probably deliver a nuclear warhead to Chicago.

The refusal by the Obama Administration and others to acknowledge the extraordinary danger posed by North Korea has many deeply concerned.  Joshua Pollack, writing in Arms Control Wonk  writes: “If there’s one thing in the public discussion of proliferation that troubles me the most, it might be this: the systematic minimization of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities in the American news media…News reports persistently describe North Korea’s three-stage space launcher, the Taepodong-2 (TD-2), as capable of delivering a reasonably sized warhead to Alaska or maybe to the western continental United States. But at least if we go by the official, unclassified, publicly released estimate of the U.S. government, that’s wrong! The TD-2 can range all of the USA, from sea to shining sea. Here it is in black-and-white from the National Intelligence Council’s September 1999 paper, ‘Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States Through 2015:’‘A two-stage Taepo Dong-2 could deliver a several-hundred kilogram payload to Alaska and Hawaii, and a lighter payload to the western half of the United States. A three-stage Taepo Dong-2 could deliver a several-hundred kilogram payload anywhere in the United States.”

An electromagnetic pulse unleashed by even a single nuclear explosion could permanently disable all electrical and computer systems within a very wide area. The danger is clear: just one or two North Korean nuclear weapons detonated over the midsection of the United States could send America back to the 1800’s, incapacitating the nation’s infrastructure with the resulting death of the majority of the population through lack of food, water, medicine, and transportation.

A Federalist review of that issue outlined the challenge:

“Many people complacently ignore the threats posed by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK]…What kind of an attack could Kim hurl at us? One that could kill between 75 percent and 90 percent of our population, relegating Americans to endangered society status and transporting those surviving back in time to the mid-1800s—if we’re lucky…We are all deeply concerned about the horrendous potential for Kim Jong Un to use just one device—one which poses a threat far more devastating than a full-on Russian nuclear attack…the DPRK isn’t interested in making several of our cities glow. They want to take us out “all at once.” After the January test came this from North Korea’s news service, KCNA: “The scientists and technicians of the DPRK are in high spirit to detonate H-bombs of hundreds of Kt (kiloton) and Mt (megaton) level capable of wiping out the whole territory of the U.S. all at once…”

According to reports in the Daily Mail, President-elect Trump has requested a special classified intelligence briefing on the issue.

The Imminent EMP Threat

Even as North Korea and Iran move closer to the ability to launch an ICBM against the American homeland, there is a tendency to underestimate the catastrophic effects even a single nuclear warhead could produce.

The commonly-known scenario is one in which a limited nuclear strike devastates a single target or set of targets but leaves the majority of the U.S. population untouched. However, just one atomic bomb, exploded at the right altitude, can produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would destroy all electrical and computer systems throughout the nation.

The effects would be calamitous.  Without power, and without the means to move people and goods (an EMP would also render all trains, planes, and automobiles useless, since all those modes of transportation rely on both electronics and computer systems) or the means to pump water, the vast majority of Americans, estimates indicate approximately 90%, would die of starvation and thirst within a relatively short period of time. Those dependent on the miracles of modern medicine, including pacemakers and other devices, would face an even quicker death.  It would take decades to replace the destroyed power structure.

The federal EMP Commission warns that “The high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces… What is different now is that some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter—they can be terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or a few weapons, and are motivated to attack the US without regard for their own safety. Rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the United States, and may also be unpredictable and difficult to deter…Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas, and designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.”

Incredibly, despite the fact that it would take less than $10 billion to protect the power grid, (the technology is readily available and comparatively simple) the Obama Administration has chosen not to move ahead with the project. That figure would have been just a small fraction of the President $800 billion stimulus package, much of which was essentially wasted because he alleged that he couldn’t find “shovel ready jobs.”

A study by the Gatestone Institute found that “…an EMP attack from a single 10-kiloton nuclear weapon — of the type now in North Korea’s arsenal — could cause cascading failures…An EMP, detonated at an altitude above 30-70 kilometers, could be delivered by a short-range missile fired off a freighter, hundreds of kilometers off U.S. shores.”

While protecting the U.S. from this sort of attack is not on the President’s agenda, America’s adversaries have given this type of assault serious thought. Gatestone reports: “In 1999…at a high level meeting in Vienna of a Congressional delegation with senior members of the Russian government, Vladimir Lukin, the chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, angry with American policy in the Balkans, issued the following threat: ‘If we really wanted to hurt you with no fear of retaliation, we would launch a Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), [and] we would detonate a nuclear weapon high above your country and shut down your power grid.”

The Wall Street Journal  has reported that “During the Cold War, Russia designed an orbiting nuclear warhead resembling a satellite and peaceful space-launch vehicle called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. It would use a trajectory that does not approach the U.S. from the north, where our sensors and few modest ballistic-missile defenses are located, but rather from the south. The nuclear weapon would be detonated in orbit, perhaps during its first orbit, destroying much of the U.S. electric grid with a single explosion high above North America. In 2004, the EMP Commission met with senior Russian military personnel who warned that Russian scientists had been recruited by North Korea to help develop its nuclear arsenal as well as EMP-attack capabilities. In December 2012, the North Koreans successfully orbited a satellite, the KSM-3, compatible with the size and weight of a small nuclear warhead. The trajectory of the KSM-3 had the characteristics for delivery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S……In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States …concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.”

While defense policy is always fraught with contentious politics, the need to protect the nation from EMP could arise from a natural occurrence—and one that may occur soon. National Geographic  notes that during 1859, the Sun was in a “solar maximum” phase similar to one it is presently entering. “That storm has been dubbed the Carrington Event, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth…In addition, the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment—some bad enough to set fires, said Ed Cliver, a space physicist at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1859, such reports were mostly curiosities. But if something similar happened today, the world’s high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.’What’s at stake,’ the Space Weather Prediction Center’s Bogdan said, ‘are the advanced technologies that underlie virtually every aspect of our lives.”

Astronomers believe that a similar solar megaflare is already overdue.

THE GROWING EMP THREAT

Congress is beginning to pay significant attention to the potential–some would say likely–threat of an electromagnetic pulse devastating the economy, health, and safety of the United States.

 WHAT IS EMP?

 The Congressional Research Service describes Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) as “an instantaneous, intense energy field that can overload or disrupt at a distance numerous electrical systems and high technology microcircuits, which are especially sensitive to power surges. A large scale EMP effect can be produced by a single nuclear explosion detonated high in the atmosphere. This method is referred to as High-Altitude EMP (HEMP). A similar, smaller-scale EMP effect can be created using non-nuclear devices with powerful batteries or reactive chemicals. This method is called High Power Microwave (HPM). Several nations, including reported sponsors of terrorism, may currently have a capability to use EMP as a weapon for cyber warfare or cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure. Also, some equipment and weapons used by the U.S. military may be vulnerable to the effects of EMP. The threat of an EMP attack against the United States is hard to assess, but some observers indicate that it is growing along with worldwide access to newer technologies and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

 The impact of EMPs was noticed during the 1960’s, when both the Soviet Union and the United States conducted above ground nuclear tests.

  An EMP can also come from unusual solar activity, as recently reported in aNational Geographic report. A very modest version of EMP-type issues occurred last February, when a solar flare interfered with GPS signals and radio communications.

  In the past, however, more significant solar activity has occurred which would, if it happened today, significantly damage or destroy much of our modern infrastructure. According to the National Geographic Report,

  “The biggest solar storm on record happened in 1859. That storm has been dubbed the Carrington Event, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth… the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment.

 “In 1859, such reports were mostly curiosities. But if something similar happened today, the world’s high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt…What’s at stake are the advanced technologies that underlie virtually every aspect of our lives.”

 WND analysis provides a further example: “Even as far back as 1921, solar flares interfered with man’s technology.At 7:04 a.m. on May 15, 1921, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th Street shut down due to a ‘solar event.’ At the same time in Sweden, a telephone station was ‘burned out,’ and the solar storm interfered with telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe.”

  The nuclear weapon scenario is becoming increasingly likely, particularly since the cuts to the anti-ballistic missile program instituted by the Obama Administration. The devastation doesn’t have to come from a full-scale nuclear attack.  A single well placed weapon, delivered by a smaller national source such as Iran or North Korea, or even a terrorist organization such as al Qaeda, could produce a devastating result.

 THE EFFECTS OF EMP

 Consider the effects of both the electrical grid and portable electronics being shattered until wholly new equipment could be manufactured and emplaced:

  •   Reservoirs would be incapable of pumping water.
  • Planes, trains, trucks and autos, all of which now depend upon electronics, would be incapable moving.
  • Deliveries of food and medicine would cease.
  • Emergency vehicles, police cars, and even military equipment would be rendered harmless.
  • Hospitals would be incapable of servicing patients beyond a few primitive functions.
  • Heating and cooling systems would be inoperable.
  • Communications by radio, television, and telephone would be eliminated.

According to a Washington Free Beacon study quoting Dr. Peter Pry of the Congressional EMP Commission and Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, “an EMP event could wipe out 90 percent of America’s population.”

 In response to the threat, Rep. Trent Franks,(R-AZ), who has introduced H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act:

  “The threat of an electromagnetic pulse weapon represents the single greatest asymmetric capability that could fall into the hands of America’s enemies. Should a nuclear weapon from a rogue state such as Iran be detonated in Earth’s atmosphere at a sufficient height above the continental United States, the blast of electromagnetic energy could immediately cripple America’s electric power grid. Currently, the vast majority of the United States’ infrastructure is unsecured and exposed.

 “According to some experts, just one properly placed EMP blast could disable so large a swath of American technology that between 70-90% of the United States’ population could become unsustainable.

 “The danger posed by electromagnetic pulse weapons, as well as naturally occurring electromagnetic pulses, has received increased attention over recent years from organizations including NASA, the National Association of Scientists, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

 On May 8, The House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Infrastructure Protection  held a hearing to discuss the potential crisis.  Rep. Franks testified that “catastrophic civilian casualties” could be caused by an EMP.

  At a NASA forum held in 2010, Dr. William Fortschen stressed that an “EMP event could result in a civilian casualty rate of upwards of 90% within year due to the breakdown of water, sanitation, medical and food distribution systems, along with the breakdown of social order, law enforcement, and command and control.”

 The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack notes:

 “Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the

United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.

 “EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of

catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.

“The common element that can produce such an impact from EMP is primarily

electronics, so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures. Our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow. The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential protagonists who are not as dependent on modern electronics. The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected. Correction is feasible and well within the Nation’s means and resources to accomplish.”

 

 Following an EMP attack, water from reservoir’s could not be transported to population centers

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

 The Center for Security Policy has extensively reviewed numerous governmental studies discussing EMP.  In its recent publication entitled “Guilty knowledge: what the U.S. government knows about the vulnerability of the electrical grid, but refuses to fix” it quotes the Final Report of the Congressional Committee on the strategic posture of the United States:

 “The United States should take steps to reduce the vulnerability of the nation and its military to attacks with weapons designed to produce electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects…From a technical perspective, it is possible that such attacks could have catastrophic consequences…Prior commissions have investigated U.S. vulnerabilities and found little activity under way to address them.  Some limited defensive measures have been ordered by the Department of Defense to give some protection to important operational communications.  But EMP vulnerabilities have not yet been addressed effectively by the Department of Homeland Security.  Doing so could take several years.  The EMP Commission has recommended numerous measures that would mitigate the damage that might be wrought by an EMP attack.”

State governments could play a role in EMP hardening within their borders, but most have not.  According to a Heritage Foundation  report,

 “…state and local governments remain poorly prepared for an EMP attack. A 2007 survey of state adjutant generals, the officials responsible for overseeing National Guard units, found that few states were prepared for an EMP attack. The survey, conducted by the Institute of the North in conjunction with the Claremont Institute, found that although 96 percent of adjutant generals surveyed indicated that they were concerned with the threat posed by an EMP attack, few had analyzed the actual impact details of an EMP attack. Furthermore, few of the adjutant generals surveyed indicated that they had made preparations, such as training, EMP hardening of systems, and the creation of formal emergency response plans for an EMP attack. Overall, most states have not taken action to address vulnerabilities to EMP attacks.”

 The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack has made the following recommendations:

   “It will not be possible to reduce the incentives for an EMP attack to an acceptable level of risk through defensive protection measures alone.  It is possible to achieve an acceptable level of risk and reduced invitation to an EMP attack with a strategy of:

 Pursuing intelligence, interdiction, and deterrence to discourage EMP attack against the US and its interests;

 Protecting critical components of the infrastructure, with particular emphasis on those that, if damaged, would require long periods of time to repair or replace;

 Maintaining the capability to monitor and evaluate the condition of critical infrastructures;

 Recognizing an EMP attack and understanding how it effects differ from other forms of infrastructure disruption and damage;

 Planning and carrying out a systematic recovery of critical infrastructures training, evaluating ‘red teaming,’ and periodically reporting to Congress;

 Defining the federal governments responsibility and authority to act, and conducting research to better understand infrastructure system effects and developing cost-effective solutions to manage these effects.

 “The cost for such improved security … is modest by any standard-and extremely so in relation to both the war on terror and the value of the national infrastructures involved. Costs at later times may be adjusted to deal with the then-apparent threat and future levels of effort required.”

 CONCLUSION

 According to various estimates, the price tag cost to protect the nation’s entire electrical grid would be $1 billion to $2 billion; some estimates indicate that protecting  all of the nation’s essential resources could cost $100 billion.  When one considers that President Obama’s Stimulus package cost over $700 billion, that is an affordable figure to counter so vast a threat.

EMP: The Very Real Threat

It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi movie: The sun emits an unusual burst of energy, and the resulting electromagnetic pulse permanently disables just about everything dependent on electronics: vehicles, planes, televisions, radios, computers, the whole electrical grid.  The resulting loss of power means there is no way to get water from reservoirs, no way of harvesting food or moving it to cities.  Even the military is paralyzed.

The scenario is becoming increasingly likely.  And it isn’t just a solar event.  A nuclear weapon could produce a similar event.  According to Rep. Trent Franks, (R-AZ) ,  who has introduced H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act,

“The threat of an electromagnetic pulse weapon represents the single greatest asymmetric capability that could fall into the hands of America’s enemies. Should a nuclear weapon from a rogue state such as Iran be detonated in Earth’s atmosphere at a sufficient height above the continental United States, the blast of electromagnetic energy could immediately cripple America’s electric power grid. Currently, the vast majority of the United States’ infrastructure is unsecured and exposed.

“According to some experts, just one properly placed EMP blast could disable so large a swath of American technology that between 70-90% of the United States’ population could become unsustainable.

“The danger posed by electromagnetic pulse weapons, as well as naturally occurring electromagnetic pulses, has received increased attention over recent years from organizations including NASA, the National Association of Scientists, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

On May 8,  The House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Infrastructure Protection held a hearing to discuss the potential crisis.  Rep. Franks testified that “catastrophic civilian casualties” could be caused by an EMP.

It is certainly one of the infrastructure needs that could have been addressed by that $700 billion stimulus package that accomplished nothing tangible, and one which could lead to devastating future problems.