President Joe Biden’s negotiations with Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on improving the nation’s infrastructure broke down on Tuesday. But negotiations in some form will probably continue, even during the president’s European trip. As debate on infrastructure funding continues, one can only hope that there will be agreement to include funding to protect our electric power grid.
So, consider that during last Sunday’s CNN and NBC news shows, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called for more ''public-private'' cooperation on cyber defenses and explicitly stated that adversaries already could shut down the electric grid.
Her statement alone should assure everyone that protecting our vulnerable electric grid merits significant infrastructure funding.
Indeed, protecting the grid is an urgent requirement, because the military doctrine of our major adversaries — Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — includes detonating nuclear weapons at high-altitude to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could black out our entire electric power grid for many months.
The consequent loss of electricity would shut down support for the nation’s just-in-time economy that provides our food and fuel, among other important goods, and the operation of our critical civil infrastructure, including vital support for hospitals, water-wastewater operations, communications, emergency management, etc. Within months, most Americans would die due to starvation, disease and societal collapse.
Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Examiner that a majority of Americans are ''concerned'' that the grid is vulnerable and expect ''Congress to act aggressively in addressing this urgent threat'' — and he reported on a poll suggesting:
- 70% would feel unsafe in the event of a power outage of two weeks or more.
- 66% believe their quality of life will suffer with an outage lasting more than seven days.
- 64% say they are unprepared for an extended power outage that lasts for more than two weeks.
- 16% believe the federal government is doing all it can to prevent an attack on the grid.
The first three findings illustrate that most Americans recognize that they are vulnerable to, and unprepared to respond to, an extended loss of electricity. (It was hard to miss this lack of preparedness in the consequences of the week’s loss of the Texas grid in February, due to unusual freezing weather in Texas.)
But whatever the accuracy of the first three poll results above, the fourth is gravely mistaken. The government is doing very little to prevent an attack on the grid and almost nothing to protect Americans if the grid was threatened — e.g., from either natural or man-made EMP events.
(Natural EMP refers to a geomagnetic disturbance due to a major solar storm that will with certainty one day occur — just when is uncertain; and we are beginning a few years when some believe such an event is likely to occur. Man-made EMP could occur from a High-Altitude EMP attack by Russia, China, North Korea or Iran — all of which include such a capability in their military doctrine and strategy, as noted above.)
As I have written in numerous previous articles and summarized in my June 1 Newsmax article, we have long known how to protect the grid by exploiting the same plans, technology and programs used for decades to protect our most important military systems — and moreover that doing so is quite affordable.
Thus, countering this continuing existential threat is not because of ignorance or expense— it is purely a bureaucratic and/or political challenge.
President Biden and Republicans negotiating with him have an opportunity to divert from this sad history by including significant funding to protect the grid in the infrastructure plan they are both seeking — not for more studies, but preferably to fund actual ''pathfinder'' efforts to apply well-known methods to protect the grid from the ''bottom-up,'' beginning at the local and state level, as I discussed in my June 1 message.
Such an effort should receive bipartisan support from all sworn to ''provide for the common defense.''
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Read Ambassador Cooper's Reports — More Here.
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