“Only air and water are more important to sustain life than electrical power.” ~ Texas District 2 State Senator Bob Hall
A year ago, I joined a number of “Secure the Grid” colleagues at an Austin, Texas conference to discuss the existential threat to America posed by possible physical, cyber and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks on the nation’s electric power grid, or by a natural EMP event, a massive solar storm, that will one day certainly occur. Click here for The Texas Tribune report on that conference intended to inform Senator Bob Hall’s efforts to gain support for his resolution in the Texas legislature to protect the “Texas Interconnect” of electric power grid against those threats. And Click here for my May 3, 2016 discussion of that effort among others on the same trip, including Indiana, Louisiana and Alabama, to encourage a “bottom’s up” effort to protect the electric power grid.
Senator Hall’s resolution failed to pass out of committee last year — lost by a single vote; and he is trying again, supported last week by many of the same colleagues, though I had conflicts in South Carolina and was not able to join them this year. I am told his proposed legislation will pass out of committee overwhelmingly this time.
Importantly, it recognizes a unique reality among all the states: The Texas grid is contained within the state’s borders, giving Texas an opportunity to protect its electric-grid infrastructure as a model for the entire nation. If successful, it can set an example for the other interconnections illustrated below by the North American Electric Reliability Cooperation (NERC).
Senator Hall’s proposed bill, which calls on the Governor, Speaker of the House and Legislature to take necessary actions to harden the power grid against EMP to protect Texans now and in the future, is receiving support across Texas. For example, click here for the reception he received before the Kaufman County Commissioners last December — unanimous support for the Resolution he is now introducing in the Texas Legislature. More specifically, his proposed legislation creates a task force to assess vulnerabilities in the state’s electric grid and make recommendations on how to secure the grid against attack by September 1, 2018 at the latest.
Click here for a comprehensive Daily Caller report on last week’s April 11th hearing and here for the Committee’s 2-hour Youtube record of the proceedings. Notably, Senator Hall noted: “This bill would provide our state with a golden opportunity to ensure that when the lights go out in the rest of the country, they stay on in Texas.”
News about this important hearing was drowned out by other important news last week, particularly associated with the “talk-talk” repercussions of, for example:
- The attack on the airbase in Syria that launched chemical attack killing women and children;
- The Massive Ordinance Airblast Bomb (MOAB), known more colloquially as the “Mother of all Bombs” dropped to kill Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan;
- Secretary of State Tillerson’s Far East trip where he announced the era of “strategic patience” is over followed by his chilly meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and a two hour meeting with President Putin;
- President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago meeting with the China’s President Xi Jinpi, followed by ordering the Carrier Strike Group to the waters off North Korea;
- The subsequent China’s unprecedented potentially helpful initiatives to throttle back North Korea’s Great Leader Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and associated ballistic missile delivery systems; and
- Associated implications for North Korea’s close ally, Iran — e.g., former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton stated on several talk shows over the past weekend words to the effect that; “When North Korea gets a nuclear armed intercontinental range ballistic missile (ICBM) Iran can have it the next day for the right price.”
(Note: These selected issues are from a group of many more matters in last week’s news, e.g., from my perspective: 1) The positive impacts of Justice Neil Gorsuch assuming his seat on the Supreme Court and reports of greater restraints on illegal immigration into the United States; and 2) The likely negative impact of the electorate of Turkey further empowering President Tayyip Erdogan in his steady movement away from the secular state established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk toward a much less secular state governed by the long standing Sharia tenants of Islam — bad news from our erstwhile NATO ally. Click here for a pertinent Haaretz analysis of this removal of Erdogan’s restraints.)
These are important times to be sure. From my perspective, these events should not be separated from Senator Hall’s concerns; because, for example, these above nations of concern — Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — wish us harm, and all have the capability, doctrines and plans to carry out the very attacks on America that concern him. For example re. Iran, see below for a too little referenced July 21, 2015 statement by House EMP Caucus Chairman Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) at the July 21, 2015 International Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Summit in Washington:
Most everyone expects Russia and China to have this capability. And I have joined others to warn that that North Korea already has nuclear weapons — many believe perhaps a couple of dozen with the prospects of many more — and the demonstrated means to deliver them by satellites that approach the United States from our largely undefended south. Moreover, Iran also has demonstrated this same satellite delivery capability and may have nuclear weapons, but can surely have them by purchasing them from their ally North Korea. All they need do to create a devastating EMP is detonate the nuclear weapon as the satellite carrying it passes over the United States — no special development is needed to reenter the atmosphere, as would be the case for the attacking traditional ICBM that is the main focus of the press.
Click here for a February 12, 2016 National Review article, in which I joined former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, Chairman of the EMP Commission Dr. William R. Graham, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council Fritz Ermarth, and EMP Commission Staff Director Peter Vincent Pry in challenging those who grossly underestimate the already existing threat from North Korea and Iran.
To return to my main point in this message, Senator Bob Hall’s efforts are important not only for Texas, but also for all Americans because if he is successful in Texas, his success will be a model for us all to follow.
As a South Carolinian, I am proud to note that now Texas Senator Hall is an engineering graduate of The Citadel in Charleston, SC — and that in the 1960s we served as U.S. Air Force officers (I received my USAF commission as an engineering graduate from Clemson University.) working to harden our military systems against nuclear weapons effects, including EMP, then a highly classified, little discussed matter. Our objective then was to protect our retaliatory strategic systems — Minuteman ICBMs, our strategic bombers, our sea-based ballistic missiles (SLBMs) — and to provide the President warning of, and an assured ability to retaliate after, a Soviet surprise nuclear attack.
It is an honor to again be joining forces with Senator Hall now to seek the same protection for all American citizens against this existential threat to the grid. And from all comers (including terrorists like ISIS if they get a nuclear weapon and can launch it on a purchased ballistic missile from a vessel off our coasts — say from the Gulf of Mexico and detonate it high above currently unprotected Americans) not just from the Soviets/Russians.
In that respect, I am also focused on working the issue from the “bottom-up” because the Washington federal establishment is so dysfunctional. In my case, I am starting at the local and county level — especially around Lake Wylie, in York County, SC and in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties in North Carolina. Along with Duke Energy engineers, we are engaging local citizens and officials to assure, in the case of a major grid blackout, local electricity will be restored to a significant “island in the grid” around Lake Wylie — and expanding it to join with other nearby similar “islands” (particularly around our nuclear power plants) to restore the grid.
Duke Energy operates three power plants on Lake Wylie — in York County, SC, the Catawba nuclear power plant (the restoration of which gets top priority in a grid black out) and the Wylie hydroelectric power plant (which is the most resilient) and in Gaston County, NC, the Allen coal power plant. All three plants are important in restoring the local and extended grid, with a major management role being played by engineers at the corporate offices of Duke Energy — the nation’s largest electric power company — which are in Mecklenburg County, NC.
We are working together with our respective state and local authorities to assure not only the viability of Duke Energy’s infrastructure, but also that of several local power companies and CoOps that pass needed electricity to local customers, including at the City and County level — but also to the homes of private subscribers. This is a critically important challenge because of the nation’s patchwork quilt of several thousand electric power companies that must be properly engaged and prepared if all U.S. citizens are to have electricity restored after and major electric grid blackout.
Click here for previous discussion of our Lake Wylie Pilot Study. Future messages will include further discussion, including how we intend to provide a pattern for other states to follow. Most particularly, we hope to join forces with Texas, where my colleague in the 1960s, Senator Bob Hall, is setting the stage for expanding upon our hopefully successful Lake Wylie effort to support protecting the entire Texas Interconnect. Our joint lessons can be exploited by others, and I am sure they will be.
So, not only the “Eyes of Texas” are upon the efforts of Senator Hall. I expect considerable cooperation since we both got our start in South Carolina — Senator Hall from The Citadel and yours truly from Clemson. Hopefully, we can now exploit lessons learned from our efforts in the 1960s when serving in the U.S. Air Force and seeking to protect key strategic systems against nuclear, particularly EMP, effects (while they were highly classified).
Now we seek to protect America’s key critical civil infrastructure. Our federal government has never worked previously to provide that important, even vital, protection. All Americans need to be assured of the viability of the electric power grid upon which their survival depends. Senator Hall is quite correct in observing:
“Only air and water are more important to sustain life than electrical power.”
A Concluding Thought.
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” lyrics were first recorded by Perry Como two days after the Pearl Harbor attack that launched World War II. It spent 5 weeks at the top — and 12 weeks overall on — The Hit Parade in 1942. The BBC banned the song during working hours in 1942 on the grounds that its infectious melody might cause wartime factory hands to neglect their tools while they clapped in time with the music. It is a motivating tune, indeed.
It is sung by students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Texas at Longhorn sports games, before the fireworks and other events. (I expect the Texas A&M Aggies may have their own version.)
As a Clemson man, I’ll take my cue from “Tiger Rag,” but I’ll certainly join Senator Hall and his supportive Texans in this urgent effort to protect our grid from the existing existential threats to all we hold dear — working from the bottom up!
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them.
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