Homeland Security Idle on 2008 EMP Threat

The potential threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has officially captured the attention of politicians in Washington, who are using it as an issue to drive debate about possible military threats and infrastructure overhauls.

The catastrophe that could come from an EMP would be overwhelming and devastating to the infrastructure that hundreds of millions depend upon, yet Homeland Security has done absolutely nothing to harden the grid or take basic precautions since it was warned in a 2008 report. According to the Washington Free Beacon:

The Department of Homeland Security has failed to address a single recommendation from a 2008 Critical National Infrastructures report to assess the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks and solar storms

“We’ve allowed government dysfunction to prevent us from doing even the most basic things to protect ourselves,” said Chairman Ron Johnson (R., Wis.)…


“I emphasize that a once-per-century event could occur next week. It has a probability of 10 percent of occurring in the next 10 years, a time in which we can and should take measures to reduce and essentially eliminate its impact on the bulk power system of the United States,” said Dr. Richard Garwin of the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

You can read the 2008 Critical Infrastructures Report: Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack here in PDF.

According to experts, the minimum to protect American power grids from EMP would involve no more than a few hundred substations that could be hardened for “an estimated $100,000 per station” – a paltry sum compared to to other technological costs born by Homeland Security, law enforcement and military agencies. Of course,IBM stands to gain from new grid infrastructure, as many “smart grid” firms share common plans with EMP resilient proposals, both of which favor overhauling the aging grid designed in the days of Tesla and Edison. …


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