Political game playing has left the country's electrical grid vulnerable to a catastrophic collapse that could ultimately spell the demise of 90 percent of Americans, one official says.
Peter Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, told J.D. Hayworth, John Bachman, and David Patten on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that the United States is ill-prepared for the devastation that could be brought about by an electromagnetic pulse.
Pry said this hypercharged radio wave, which could be emitted from a solar flare striking the Earth's magnetosphere or by the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere over the country, would contain enough energy to "collapse electric grids . . . everything depends directly or indirectly upon electricity, and so within 72 hours the blackout of the electrical infrastructure collapsed and basically, our electronic society gets cast back to pre-electronic days."
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"Cars wouldn't start, your personal computers would fail, and this is not just an inconvenience," Pry said. "An EMP of these sorts caused by the sun or caused by a nuclear weapon would be protracted, or permanent, given our current situation. It could last years, and we can't survive, even for a year, without electricity.
"The EMP commission in which I served estimated that, given our current unpreparedness, within a year of a natural or nuclear EMP event that caused a national blackout, we could lose up to nine of 10 Americans from starvation, disease and societal collapse."
Hayworth likened the EMP threat to "something out of science fiction." An example of the power of electromagnetic pulse was depicted in the 1996 movie "Broken Arrow," in which John Travolta's character, Maj. Vic Deakins, detonates a nuclear warhead underground.
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Pry said that any of our known nuclear-armed enemies — he singled out Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China as examples — has the capability to execute a similar detonation over the center of the United States.
"It's basically a high-tech means of killing people the old-fashioned way," he said.
The Department of Defense has known about technology — Faraday cages, surge arresters, and blocking devices — to prevent such an attack for the last 50 years, Pry said.
He said the expense to protect the electrical grid would be about $2 billion, the equivalent of "what we give away every year in foreign aid to Pakistan."
Pry said the energy lobby is standing in the way of the government'a making that investment.
"The problem is called the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, which is basically – it's supposed to be the organization to provide for the reliability of the electric grid, but it's really a lobby for the 3,000 electric utilities," Pry said.
"They don't want bills passed at the national level like the Grid Act or the Shield Act that are currently in front of Congress, which would empower the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require them to harden the grid. They don't want the government to have this additional regulatory authority.
"We actually got the Grid Act through the House of Representatives once. Everybody voted for it, Republicans and Democrats alike, but one senator stopped it and held it up, and that's basically the problem.
"You know, Washington is so broken you can thwart the will of the Congress if you just get the right person at the right committee, and you can hold things up. They've successfully held things up for nearly half a decade now."
Pry declined to name the senator who is blocking the measure.
To get around the logjam in Washington, Pry said his commission and supportive grassroots movements have gone to the individual states. They have found success in Maine, Virginia, and Florida thus far, while Oklahoma and Utah have expressed interest.
"If we have to, we'll go to every state in the union and do it one state at a time," Pry said.
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