The law not only requires preparation against a natural or man-made EMP, it encourages other states to take a similar initiative, since the federal government has refused to make the potential for an EMP event a priority.
The “Act to Secure the Safety of Electrical Transmission Lines” was introduced by Maine Representative Andrea Boland, D-Sanford.
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, had promised that if the legislation became law it would provide Maine with a study of the most cost-effective options to protect the Maine electric grid from an EMP, free of charge.
It has been estimated that hardening the Maine grid may cost only one to three percent of the cost of new construction and expansion of the Maine grid currently underway.
“This is the first major success for those who have been fighting to get grass roots Americans to take this existential threat seriously and to deal with it,” said former Ambassador Henry Cooper, the first director of the Strategic Defense Initiative under then President Ronald Reagan.
“Hopefully, other states will find local authorities who also will take the initiative to follow Maine’s pattern,” he added.
Congress has sought in its past two sessions to pass the “SHIELD Act” which also would give the federal government the authority to require the electric power industry to protect the national grid from an EMP.
However, those efforts died in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which blocked the legislation.
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has failed to look at EMP as major threat in its 15 planning scenarios, even though DHS officials have testified before Congress that they are very aware of the consequences of an EMP event, whether natural or man-made.
An EMP could wreak catastrophic consequences on the nation’s technologically based society, affecting tens of millions of lives over a wide geographical area.
“Sequestration and the endless politics of the federal budget and – above all — the 2014 congressional elections, are the only ‘crises’ visible to most in Washington,” according to Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, who was staff director of the EMP Commission that released its sobering 2008 report on the impact of an EMP on the nation’s critical infrastructures that rely on the grid, electronic components and automated control systems.
“But the electric power industry has very deep pockets, and an army of K Street lobbyists so far have always been able to buy just the right member of Congress to keep (the legislation) locked up in committee,” Pry said. “Consequently, after nearly a half decade of trying, the Congress has been unable to implement the most important recommendation of the EMP Commission – protection of the electrical grid.”
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