By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org
Fearful of the deadly consequences of an electromagnetic pulse, should one hit the electrical grid, states have taken the protection of their residents into their own hands.
An EMP is a wave of energy with the ability to disrupt electrical signals. If the Earth’s atmosphere were hit by the energy from a large enough solar flare, or a nuclear bomb were detonated high enough in the sky, it would create an EMP with enough force to disable the electrical grid in many parts of the world.
In 2011, the National Association for Regulatory Utility Commissioners passed a resolution to understand the threat affecting the utilities under their jurisdiction and to advocate for federal investment into researching solutions to the problem.
In January, the Washington Examiner reported at least 12 states had begun to demand that electrical companies make the necessary upgrades to protect their systems.
Maine, Virginia, Florida, Texas, New York, Oklahoma and Alaska, for example, have all either introduced their own initiatives to require utilities to upgrade their systems, and in some states even passed those initiatives, or to pressure the federal government to do the same.
“There is a lot of activity at the state levels, growing activity I hope,” former Central Intelligence Agency analyst Peter Pry told Watchdog.org, “and all of it kind of driven by frustration that Washington has had half a decade, and it hasn’t done anything.”
Pry is now the executive director of EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
Federal inaction to upgrade the nation’s electric grid to address the problem is linked to resistance from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a nonprofit organization overseeing the reliability of electric systems in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“The main problem as far as I can tell is that the electric utilities don’t even want anyone to know that this is a problem, let alone require them to do anything about it,” Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, told Watchdog.org.
The Center for Security Policy is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit security policy think tank.
NERC didn’t respond to Watchdog.org’s request for comment by the time of publication.
“I say this as a tea party Republican, I’m not in favor of big government, but there is a legitimate role for government in the Constitution to provide for the common defense and make sure that the people are protected,” Pry said.
Contact Josh Peterson at [email protected]. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect that initiatives in some states may have been introduced but did not pass.