Power Grid: Arizona Wants DHS To Focus On EMP Threat To Electrical Grid

Tara Dodrill - Author
By

Oct. 19 2016, Updated 11:24 p.m. ET

Power grid terrorism and failure concerns have prompted Arizona to push the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus more keenly on electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats. United States Representative Trent Franks is once again the man pushing to have the Obama administration make the safety and security of the power grid a top priority.

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Trent Franks, a Republican, was also on the committee panel. His SHIELD Act, a piece of legislation designed to upgrade and harden the power grid, has been stalled in committee for at least a year. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, the executive director of the Congressional advisory board on both the National and Homeland Security Task Forces and the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, also once again offered insight into the significant threat to society, which would occur if an EMP attack of solar flare took down the power grid, during the meeting. Dr. Pry cited Franks’ SHIELD Act as an example of the government’s unwillingness to act upon the concerns voiced by experts and security officials.

An EMP bomb is a nuclear weapon designed to be detonated at a high altitude in order to create extremely powerful electromagnetic pulses. Such pulses will not only cause the light to go out, but completely destroy electrical devises and the computer systems in modern vehicles. Electromagnetic pulses can occur natural from a solar storm – solar flare/CME, or via man-made nuclear weapons. If the power grid fails due to an EMP attack, millions of lives will be lost and the economy will take likely take a nose dive that is could take decades to recover from – if ever.

Representative Franks had this to say about pushing DHS to focus on EMP threats to the power grid.

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“The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act will enhance DHS threat assessments for geomagnetic disturbances and electromagnetic pulse blackouts which will enable practical steps to protect the vital electric grid that serves America and her critical financial, agricultural, medical and emergency response capabilities and many other critical systems.”

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If the grid failed due to an EMP attack, life would change drastically within seconds. Sensitive computer equipment, such as life-saving machines used in hospitals, electrical systems in modern vehicles, cell phones, and a multitude of other commonly relied upon gadgets, would cease to function if not properly stored inside a Faraday cage. Since an X-Class solar flare has directly impacted Earth since 1859, and America has not yet been the target of an EMP attack, the effectiveness of Faraday cages is based solely upon controlled tests and laboratory simulations.

The power grid is our most antiquated and vulnerable piece of infrastructure. The entire system is teetering on the brink of failure. The grid is often called America’s glass jaw because of the nation’s reliability on it and also due to its many weaknesses, such as its vulnerability to a domino effect because it is interconnected. There are about 5,800 power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the U.S., many of them decades old and a large portion of them connected to one another.

What do you think about EMP threats to the power grid?

[Image via: Shutterstock]

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