by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If James Carafano grabbed your attention earlier this week with his John Locke Foundation presentation on the threat associated with an electromagnetic pulse attack, you’ll want to read Bill Gertz‘s latest article for the Washington Free Beacon.
American power companies are studying ways to protect electric grids against a high-altitude nuclear blast and other directed energy attacks that could severely disrupt electricity transmission, an industry representative told a Senate hearing Wednesday.
Scott Aaronson, managing director for cyber and infrastructure security at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), stated in testimony that a consortium of U.S. electric companies is working with the Energy Department to study how to protect power grids from a nuclear blast-produced electromagnetic pulse attack or solar flares that could damage transformers and other electric components and shut down power for millions of Americans.
“There are a lot of threats to the grid … from squirrels to nation states,” Aaronson said in testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “And frankly, there have been more blackouts as a result of squirrels [gnawing wire insulation] than there are from nation states.”
The hearing was called to examine threats to critical infrastructure ranging from cyber attacks and criminal activities to terrorist sabotage and nation state nuclear attacks.
Aaronson, whose institute represents all investor-owned U.S. electric companies, said in testimony that electromagnetic pulse is a concern and could be caused by a high-altitude nuclear blast or a directed energy weapon.
The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, a group of chief executives from 21 electric companies and nine major industry associations, is working with the Energy Department to examine the threat. Aaronson, the council’s secretary, stated that the threat study is based on research done by the Pentagon and national laboratories.