President Trump on Tuesday added to his long list of battles by issuing an executive order to increase preparedness for a possible electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack.
An EMP, either by a nuclear device or solar event, could shut down massive sections of the electric grid, according to numerous studies.
That would mean no financial transactions are possible, no truck transport to haul goods and food, no communications and much more. In short, it could threaten the lives of tens of millions of people.
The White House confirmed that the president has signed an order titled “Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulse.”
“This executive order advances increased resilience to Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) events by directing better data gathering, testing, and private-sector coordination to implement protective measures,” the announcement said.
The order also instructs departments and agencies to coordinate and streamline efforts, while fostering an environment, through administration leadership, that promotes private-sector innovation to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“President Trump will always do what it takes to keep Americans safe” the White House said. “Today’s executive order – the first ever to establish a comprehensive policy to improve resilience to EMPs – is one more example of how the administration is keeping its promise to always be vigilant against present dangers and future threats.
WND reported in January a new federal report, “Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage,” warned 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.
“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.”
An EMP could come from a solar flare or a nuclear explosion above the nation.
The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council was set up 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 came just as the threats of terrorist attacks on the electric grid are rising.
PJMedia reported at the time 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,” PJ Media reported.
The newest 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.”
In December, the Department of Homeland Security warned the electric grid is the “prime target” of terrorists and Americans should prepare for the up to six months without electricity, transportation, fuel, money and healthcare.
The report, issued to President Trump by the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, concludes people “no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage.”
“We need to improve individual preparedness,” says the report, titled “Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage.”
The Washington Examiner noted it was the second report in a month to warn of a “profound threat” to the electric grid from terrorism and naturally occurring events such as a solar storm or flare. The prior report was issued by federal agencies and the military. The new one, with a similar warning, was prepared by industry and governmental leaders.
William R. Graham, chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, has warned that a one-day blackout would cost 574 lives due to a lack of emergency medical equipment powered by electricity.
But such an attack could turn the lights out for a year, he said.
Graham said “326 million Americans cannot long survive bereft by EMP of the electronic civilization that sustains their lives.”
“A nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill millions, perhaps prove fatal to most Americans, by starvation, disease, and societal collapse.”