EMP Terror Legislation

Title: Report Of The Commission To Assess The Threat To The United States From Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: Volume 1: Executive Report
EMP Commission (PDF)

Abstract: Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.

EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.

The common element that can produce such an impact from EMP is primarily electronics, so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures. Our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow. The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential protagonists who are not as dependent on modern electronics.

The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected. Correction is feasible and well within the Nation's means and resources to accomplish (EMP Commission, 2004).

Title: The Report Of The Commission To Assess The Threat To The U.S. From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack
July 22, 2004
Committee On Armed Services House of Representatives (PDF)

The CHAIRMAN. Okay, folks. We will fire up here. Today is our prayer breakfast, and, you know, that is very important for Members of Congress, a very important beginning of the day. We have a few Members over there right now. I think Ike is still there, but we will come to order and Mr. Taylor will sit in for Mr. Skelton here.

The hearing will come to order. Our guests this morning are members of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. Its Chairman, Dr. William Graham, will give us the highlights of the Commission's report, and he is accompanied by several distinguished members of the Commission: Dr. John Foster, Mr. Earl Gjelde, Mr. Henry Kluepfel, General Richard Lawson, Dr. Joan Woodard and Dr. Lowell Wood.

We would like to just thank you all first for putting in the time that you have on this Commission. Welcome to the committee. We all look forward to your testimony. We appreciate your appearance.

My understanding from Dr. Graham is that he will present the Commission's testimony, but that other Commissioners will respond to questions.

I also want to remind Members that Commissioners will deliver a members-only classified briefing in 2212 after the hearing.

National security experts have known about electromagnetic pulse (EMP) for decades, at least since the atomic bombs were used at the end of World War II. During the Cold War, we thought about it primarily in terms of ensuring the credibility of our nuclear deterrent, so we hardened a large number of our military systems in order to operate in a nuclear environment.

Since the Cold War, however, several trends have forced us to think about EMP in a new way. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the rise of new nuclear powers with small nuclear arsenals have forced us to think about EMP as an asymmetric threat in its own right. At the same time, our economy is increasingly dependent on the electronic systems vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse.

We heard a lot about this problem in the 1990's, but nobody had a good handle on it. So this committee took the lead in creating a national commission to look into the problem. We are here today to review its findings and recommendations.

So, folks, thanks again for appearing before the committee. We look forward to your testimony.

I want to turn to my good friend, Mr. Taylor, to make any remarks he might want to make.

We also want to give thanks to Roscoe Bartlett for his great work in this area and initiative and Curt Weldon who has also undertaken this as a very major part of his agenda. We have Members on the committee who have really focused on this problem. We think it is timely, and I want to let them make a comment or two also.

But, first, Mr. Taylor, do you have any remarks you would like to make?

Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am going to, if you do not mind, read a prepared statement by Mr. Skelton.

''Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses. Thank you for holding this important hearing.

''I appreciate the hard work the Commission members undertook to better understand a threat that is viewed by most as complex and arcane. As the report points out, to launch an EMP attack, an adversary needs a ballistic missile, a nuclear warhead, the ability to mate the two and the ability to fire it to the right point in the atmosphere or space so the detonation produces an electromagnetic pulse.

''Clearly, China and Russia have this capability, and perhaps a rogue nation like North Korea, but an EMP attack is not an easy task for a terrorist group, the threat I worry about most, unless they get outside help. This is why I think the Commission's report underscores the need for more vigorous leadership by the United States on nuclear non-proliferation.

''We should be making it as difficult as possible for terrorists to get a hold of uranium or plutonium, the key ingredients to nuclear weapons. Non-proliferation is not foreign aid. It is our first line of defense.

''It is not foolproof, but there are no foolproof answers to thwarting a nuclear weapon attack, including an EMP attack. But my making it difficult to acquire fissile materials, we also make it more likely that we can detect when a terrorist group obtains them. There is no down side to a tough nuclear non-proliferation regime.

''Today, U.S. nuclear non-proliferations programs are plodding along at the pre-September 11 funding levels. They are being held up by bureaucratic issues, like liability.

''I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses, but I believe what we hear from them today should spur Congress to insist on a more vigorous non-proliferation program.''

I yield back the balance of my time
(Committee On Armed Services House of Representatives, 2004).

EMP Commission: Critical Infrastructure
April, 2008
EMP Commission (PDF)

Abstract: The physical and social fabric of the United States is sustained by a system of systems; a complex and dynamic network of interlocking and interdependent infrastructures (“critical national infrastructures”) whose harmonious functioning enables the myriad actions, transactions, and information flow that undergird the orderly conduct of civil society in this country. The vulnerability of these infrastructures to threats — deliberate, accidental, and acts of nature — is the focus of greatly heightened concern in the current era, a process accelerated by the events of 9/11 and recent hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita.

This report presents the results of the Commission’s assessment of the effects of a high altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on our critical national infrastructures and provides recommendations for their mitigation. The assessment is informed by analytic and test activities executed under Commission sponsorship, which are discussed in this volume. An earlier executive report, Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) — Volume 1: Executive Report (2004), provided an overview of the subject.

The electromagnetic pulse generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. The increasingly pervasive use of electronics of all forms represents the greatest source of vulnerability to attack by EMP. Electronics are used to control, communicate, compute, store, manage, and implement nearly every aspect of United States (U.S.) civilian systems. When a nuclear explosion occurs at high altitude, the EMP signal it produces will cover the wide geographic region within the line of sight of the detonation.1 This broad band, high amplitude EMP, when coupled into sensitive electronics, has the capability to produce widespread and long lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of U.S. society.

Because of the ubiquitous dependence of U.S. society on the electrical power system, its vulnerability to an EMP attack, coupled with the EMP’s particular damage mechanisms, creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences. The implicit invitation to take advantage of this vulnerability, when coupled with increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, is a serious concern. A single EMP attack may seriously degrade or shut down a large part of the electric power grid in the geographic area of EMP exposure effectively instantaneously. There is also a possibility of functional collapse of grids beyond the exposed area, as electrical effects propagate from one region to another.

The time required for full recovery of service would depend on both the disruption and damage to the electrical power infrastructure and to other national infrastructures. Larger affected areas and stronger EMP field strengths will prolong the time to recover. Some critical electrical power infrastructure components are no longer manufactured in the United States, and their acquisition ordinarily requires up to a year of lead time in routine circumstances. Damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electrical infrastructure out of service for periods measured in months to a year or more.

There is a point in time at which the shortage or exhaustion of sustaining backup systems, 1 For example, a nuclear explosion at an altitude of 100 kilometers would expose 4 million square kilometers, about 1.5 million square miles, of Earth surface beneath the burst to a range of EMP field intensities. including emergency power supplies, batteries, standby fuel supplies, communications, and manpower resources that can be mobilized, coordinated, and dispatched, together lead to a continuing degradation of critical infrastructures for a prolonged period of time.

Electrical power is necessary to support other critical infrastructures, including supply and distribution of water, food, fuel, communications, transport, financial transactions, emergency services, government services, and all other infrastructures supporting the national economy and welfare. Should significant parts of the electrical power infrastructure be lost for any substantial period of time, the Commission believes that the consequences are likely to be catastrophic, and many people may ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities. In fact, the Commission is deeply concerned that such impacts are likely in the event of an EMP attack unless practical steps are taken to provide protection for critical elements of the electric system and for rapid restoration of electric power, particularly to essential services. The recovery plans for the individual infrastructures currently in place essentially assume, at worst, limited upsets to the other infrastructures that are important to their operation. Such plans may be of little or no value in the wake of an EMP attack because of its long-duration effects on all infrastructures that rely on electricity or electronics.

The ability to recover from this situation is an area of great concern. The use of automated control systems has allowed many companies and agencies to operate effectively with small work forces. Thus, while manual control of some systems may be possible, the number of people knowledgeable enough to support manual operations is limited. Repair of physical damage is also constrained by a small work force. Many maintenance crews are sized to perform routine and preventive maintenance of high-reliability equipment.

When repair or replacement is required that exceeds routine levels, arrangements are typically in place to augment crews from outside the affected area. However, due to the simultaneous, far-reaching effects from EMP, the anticipated augmenters likely will be occupied in their own areas. Thus, repairs normally requiring weeks of effort may require a much longer time than planned.

The consequences of an EMP event should be prepared for and protected against to the extent it is reasonably possible. Cold War-style deterrence through mutual assured

destruction is not likely to be an effective threat against potential protagonists that are either failing states or trans-national groups. Therefore, making preparations to manage the effects of an EMP attack, including understanding what has happened, maintaining situational awareness, having plans in place to recover, challenging and exercising those plans, and reducing vulnerabilities, is critical to reducing the consequences, and thus probability, of attack. The appropriate national-level approach should balance prevention, protection, and recovery.

The Commission requested and received information from a number of Federal agencies and National Laboratories. We received information from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, the National Communications System (since absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security), the Federal Reserve Board, and the Department of Homeland Security. Early in this review it became apparent that only limited EMP vulnerability testing had been accomplished for modern electronic systems and components. To partially remedy this deficit, the Commission sponsored illustrative testing of current systems and infrastructure components. The Commission’s view is that the Federal Government does not today have sufficiently robust capabilities for reliably assessing and managing EMP threats.

The United States faces a long-term challenge to maintain technical competence for understanding and managing the effects of nuclear weapons, including EMP. The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration have developed and implemented an extensive Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program over the last decade. However, no comparable effort was initiated to understand the effects that nuclear weapons produce on modern systems. The Commission reviewed current national capabilities to understand and to manage the effects of EMP and concluded that the Country is rapidly losing the technical competence in this area that it needs in the Government, National Laboratories, and Industrial Community.

An EMP attack on the national civilian infrastructures is a serious problem, but one that can be managed by coordinated and focused efforts between industry and government. It is the view of the Commission that managing the adverse impacts of EMP is feasible in terms of time and resources. A serious national commitment to address the threat of an EMP attack can develop a national posture that would significantly reduce the payoff for such an attack and allow the United States to recover in a timely manner if such an attack were to occur (EMP Commission, 2008).

Title: The SHIELD Act: H.R. 668
February 11, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives (PDF)

To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (‘‘EMP’’) threats and vulnerabilities (U.S. House of Representatives, 2011).

Title: Commission To Assess The Threat To The United States From Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
EMP Commission

The EMP Commission was established pursuant to title XIV of the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (as enacted into law by Public Law 106-398; 114 Stat. 1654A-345). Duties of the EMP Commission include assessing:

1. The nature and magnitude of potential high-altitude EMP threats to the United States from all potentially hostile states or non-state actors that have or could acquire nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles enabling them to perform a high-altitude EMP attack against the United States within the next 15 years;

the vulnerability of United States military and especially civilian systems to an EMP attack, giving special attention to vulnerability of the civilian infrastructure as a matter of emergency preparedness;

2. The capability of the United States to repair and recover from damage inflicted on United States military and civilian systems by an EMP attack; and

3. The feasibility and cost of hardening select military and civilian systems against EMP attack.

The Commission is charged with identifying any steps it believes should be taken by the United States to better protect its military and civilian systems from EMP attack.

Multiple reports and briefings associated with this effort have been produced by the EMP Commission including an Executive Report (PDF, 578KB) and a Critical National Infrastructures Report (PDF, 7MB) describing findings and recommendations.

The EMP Commission was reestablished via the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 to continue its efforts to monitor, investigate, make recommendations, and report to Congress on the evolving threat to the United States from electromagnetic pulse attack resulting from the detonation of a nuclear weapon or weapons at high altitude (EMP Commission, 2012).

Title: Homeland Security Discusses Threat Of EMP
September 13, 2012
Bio Prep Watch

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).