A new federal report, “Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage,” warns that the United States’ response plans and resources would be hugely “outmatched” by a catastrophic power outage, which could leave society in disarray and many people dead.
“We found that existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage,” said the report, which was released days ago.
“Significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage that could leave the large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sections – including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services – that are critical.”
WND has reported for years on the threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack, or EMP, from a solar flare or a nuclear explosion above the nation.
The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council was set up right after 9/11 to advise on practical strategies for industry and government to reduce the many risks from such an event.
But the study looked at not just EMP but at any major power-system failure. And it comes just as the threats of terrorist attacks on the electric grid are rising.
PJMedia reported the newest terror threat on the power grid.
“The image shows a faceless figure in a black hoodie with the Islamic State flag holding a bomb with a lit fuse with transmission towers and lines in the background. Along the power lines is the phrase ‘Just Terror’ – the ISIS slogan for lone jihadist operations – and blood-spattered ground,” the report said. “The poster directs jihadists to ‘make a surprise for the Crusaders.’
“The infrastructure threat is uncommon in ISIS propaganda, which has focused more on knife, vehicle or gun attacks in crowded areas such as festivals or music venues. Suggested targets have ranged from well-fortified locations, such as the U.S. Capitol or UN Security Council, to soft targets with little symbolic significance,” PJMedia reported.
“At the end of last month, another ISIS-allied media group encouraged jihadists to ‘kill the infidels in ways which no one else ever used’ including ‘electricity’ among methods such as snakes, poison gas, poisoned arrows, and wild animals.”
The new NIAC report was based on interviews with dozens of senior leaders and experts, as well as an extensive review of studies and statutes.
The team recommends that the nation “design a national approach to prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic power outages that provides the federal guidance, resources, and incentives needed to take action across all levels of government and industry and down to communities and individuals.”
Then, the report says, leaders need to improve understanding of “how cascading failures across critical infrastructure will affect restoration and survival.”
A number of initiatives already are under way, and they should be continued.
But they’re not enough.
“The solutions we identified will require strong public-private collaboration – as the NIAC has recommended previously – to address the scale and significance of catastrophic power outages,” the report says.
The report advises assigning responsibilities ahead of such an event and ensuring resources are available to minimize the impact and hasten recovery.
It also calls for guidance for locating resources where populations need them for sheltering in a catastrophe.
Fourth would be to design incentives and remove barriers to implementation of precautionary measures.
Region-wide tests are then needed along with standards for transmission lines, wires and pipes.
Finally, a flexible communications system would be needed to connect infrastructure owners-operators, emergency responders and government leaders.
“These actions require a whole-of-nation approach and strong public-private collaboration. Given the importance of this issue and the number of ongoing efforts, we request the National Security Council – working with the lead agencies identified – provide a status update to the NIAC within nine months of the report’s approval on how our recommendations are being implemented, progress being made … or any significant barriers.”
A power outage, the report notes, “is not simply a bigger, strong storm. It is something that could paralyze entire regions, with grave implications for the nation’s economic and social well-being.”
The issue is that when power goes out, so do systems providing water and food, communications, financial services, transportation, fuel, health care and more.
Governments are not the only ones missing the mark.
The report says: “People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. … Most preparedness campaigns call for citizens to be prepared for 72 hours in an emergency, but the new emerging standard is 14 days.”
The solution is going to take the efforts of the government, business, industry, society and individuals together, the report says.
The report urges the federal government take the lead on the issue, but “strong and effective public-private collaboration will be crucial.”