Date: April 23-24, 2011
Source: EMPact America
Abstract: EMPact America helped to sponsor this symposium, because the efforts of the participants of this symposium are an important part of the process of building resiliency into our nation's critical infrastructures.
Infrastructure Symposium is a collaborative learning community comprised of
students, educators, practitioners and government officials all engaged in
developing the next generation of critical infrastructure protection and
resilience leadership, technologies and strategies. The Symposium is about the
integration of policy, engineering and asset protection with economics, insurance,
security and everything else to form a coherent whole.
As such, the theme for the 2012 Symposium was "Full Spectrum Resilience."
Tabletop Exercises And Conferences In Washington, D.C., And Maryland: "Severe
Space Weather Threats To The National Electric Grid"
Date: October 3-6, 2011
Source: EMPact America
Abstract: EMPact America took part in the historic series of tabletop exercises and conferences focusing on the threat to our electric grid posed by solar storms, which were held by the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C., and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEM) at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland from October 3 to October 6, 2011.
This was the first time such long-term and widespread scenarios were tackled by a representative collection of federal, state, and local government and private sector officials. It was clear that our nation is unprepared to deal with this threat, and the issues discussed at these events should help to spread that message.
While the solar storm scenarios were effective, it is vitally important to address both man-made and solar (geomagnetic) storms together, especially when looking at potential solutions and policy implications. As pointed out by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry and Dr. GeorgeBaker during the NDU events last week, if we harden the nation's electric grid against nuclear EMP, we protect against both nuclear and solar (because nuclear EMP covers the E1, E2, and E3 dangers - (e.g., see EMP Commission Executive Summary for a further explanation) - the same is not true if we only protect against a solar storm (which is basically just an E3-type pulse, and thus would not help/protect us against the fast and devastating E1 pulse). Plus, the solutions covering both are low-cost when/if mitigation is done together.
It's also very important to understand and explain the dangers of using only early warning systems (like satellites) or only missile defense systems in place of the passive hardening of the electric grid. For example, when it comes to the threat posted by severe solar storms and geomagnetic damage to the electric grid, we don't have an early warning system that can save us - and we can't just shut down the whole grid even if we had an adequate warning (there's too much info to address adequately here, but it's important to note); plus, satellites and early warning systems simply can't warn us against a shorter range (non-ICBM), lower-trajectory EMP attack off of the U.S. coast(s), and a missile defense system can't protect us against a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. When looked at objectively, hardening the power grids (and buying/protecting spares of key components) is the only realistic solution.
NDU is located on a military facility, which has strict procedures and clearance requirements regarding video recording on site. EMPact America was able to record the tabletop exercise held at NDU, but needed to leave the tapes for review of them prior to clearance. We are working with NDU coordinators to get approvals and releases for much of the footage taken at NDU. That said, the events at NDU were generally for non-attribution, and some individual consents may need to be obtained as well.
We also recorded the tabletop exercise held by MEMA at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland, for which we've also been working on our permitted scope of use.
The presentations and briefings at the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) were clearly stated for attribution, and footage from CVC will most likely be the first footage to be released on our website. We are also working with the presenters from all of these events to get permission to post their power points on our site.
Dr. Peter Vincent
Pry, President of
"The National Defense University is to be commended for raising public consciousness by conducting an exercise on the threat to our electric infrastructure from great geomagnetic storms - still a little understood existential threat to our civilization. However, it was evident from the proceedings that a narrow focus on geomagnetic storms led people to contemplate solutions that would prove ineffective in regard to nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or non-nuclear EMP weapons. For example, satellite early warning of a Geomagnetic storm would be useless against an attack by a nuclear or non-nuclear EMP.
"I was therefore disappointed that a nuclear EMP threat was not included as an official addition to the exercise. Planning and training for a blackout of the national grid to protect against a geomagnetic storm would be futile in the face of a nuclear or non-nuclear EMP attack.
"I am equally
disappointed to learn that there was recently a 3-day international academic
exercise held in India to explore a scenario where Europe and the U.S. are
under EMP attack, and to simulate the reactions of the UN, and especially the
United States. Participants included "the best minds" from India, the
UAE, and Sri Lanka. The article does not describe how the simulated U.S. and UN
entities reacted to these EMP attacks; however, India and the international
community are at least fortunate that they do not have to cope with the "political
correctness" that prohibited our own National Defense University from
exploring the consequences of an EMP attack on the United States" (EMPact America, 2011).
Recent EMPact America Event: Shhh"What If Iran Already Has The Bomb?"
Date: November 1, 2011
Source: EMPact America
Abstract: Former government experts provided a realistic assessment of Iran's nuclear weapons program and warned that the threat deserves urgent attention (EMPact America, 2011).
Public Meeting: FERC Conference In Washington, D.C. "Geomagnetic
Disturbances (GMD) To The Bulk-Power Sytem"
Date: April 30, 2012
Source: EMPact America
Abstract: The purpose of the conference was to discuss issues related to reliability of the Bulk-Power System as affected by geomagnetic disturbances. The conference explored the risks and impacts from geomagnetically induced currents to transformers and other equipment on the Bulk-Power System, as well as, options for addressing or mitigating the risks and impacts.
Homeland Security Discusses Threat Of EMP
Date: September 13, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The Committee of Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the dangers of the electromagnetic pulse threat.
Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), a U.S. representative and the chairman of the subcommittee, spoke about the recent severe storms to go through Washington in his opening statement. He compared the damage of the storms to the damage that could occur from an EMP, which can result from a high-altitude nuclear or non-nuclear explosion.
Lungren said that an EMP terrorist attack could result in a loss of power to homes, communication services and military defenses and could be devastating to the economy.
Joseph McClelland, the director of the Office of Electric Reliability, said that if a terrorist or natural EMP-related event were to occur, the appropriate agencies do not yet have the authority necessary to counteract the problem.
“Any new legislation should address several key concerns, including allowing the federal government to take action before a cyber or physical national security incident has occurred, ensuring appropriate confidentiality of sensitive information submitted, developed or issued under new authority, and allowing cost recovery for costs entities incur to mitigate vulnerabilities and threats,” McClelland said. “These types of threats pose an increasing risk to the power grid that serves our nation, which undergirds our government and economy and helps ensure the health and welfare of our citizens.”
Brandon Wales, a representative of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, discussed how the DHS has used simulations to create a plan to deal with a possible EMP event.
“DHS has pursued a
deeper understanding of the EMP threat as well as its potential impacts,
effective mitigation strategies, and a greater level of public awareness and
readiness in cooperation with other federal agencies and private equipment and
system owners and operators through various communications channels,” Wales
said. “However, more work is needed to understand the risk posed by EMP and
solar weather to all sectors, through direct and cascading impacts” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).