September 27, 2016 — Whistling Past The Graveyard—Again!

September 27, 2016 — Whistling Past The Graveyard—Again!

“I think the initial instinct of industry back when this first started a few years ago was, ‘Let us do many years of research and then order us to do something . . . And we said, ‘No, no, no. You’re going to get started sooner than that,’ and then we had to figure out what was the prudent thing to require — a no-regrets strategy.” ~ FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur . . . No regrets for whom?

You might think real progress is being made, based on this comment by Commissioner LaFleur.  

Nothing could be further from the truth. (Click here for the full September 23, 2016 Energy Wire article, “FERC orders new defenses against massive solar storms,” by Peter Behr and Rod Kuckro, if you are a member of the Energy Wire club. And Click here for the referenced September 22, 2016 FERC Reliability Standard for Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events. )

How would you like your only path to life-saving medicine to be based on the recommendations of the businesses selling their medical products, without the third party independent government screening of the pharmaceutical suppliers? 

An analogous ill-advised arrangement is exactly what congress has provided for assuring the viability of the electric power grid in the face of EMP threats that could lead to the death of several hundred million Americans.

FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has not been funded to perform the needed independent analyses to accomplish a valid regulatory function.

Rather, congress has made FERC dependent on analysis provided by the Electric Power Industries themselves — by requiring that key analytical function to be accomplished by the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC), a non-profit organization mostly funded by the Electric Power companies.

How’s that for a “self-licking” ice cream cone? Wonder who’s making the big campaign contributions to influential members of congress????  Hmmmmm….

NERC conducts studies and recommends regulations to be approved by FERC.  And a typical result of that process is what was reported last Friday. The above quotation is again clear evidence that you should not believe all you hear from alleged authorities, supposedly responsible for assuring the viability of the electric power grid. 

The Energy Wire article claimed that FERC “yesterday approved unanimously the second phase of a rule requiring protection of the high-voltage grid against potentially crippling ground currents triggered by a once-in-a-century solar storm.” Sounds good, right?

What is not reported is how FERC’s regulatory review is to achieve this outcome, which Commissioner LaFleur assures the reader is an example of a deliberate effort to achieve a “no regrets strategy.”

No regrets strategy? Give me a break. This process is a recipe for disaster.

I usually refer to the valid “solar threat” subject of this FERC-NERC action as a “natural” electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat, that certainly will someday occur, only its timing is uncertain. But I always compare it to the much more lethal “manmade” EMP threat, which would result from a nuclear weapon detonated high above the United States — a threat we continue to ignore at our peril.

And this FERC-NERC product deals in detail only with the natural EMP threat, and dubiously so at that. 

This Energy Wire article indicates FERC-NERC process acknowledges the manmade EMP threat,  but states that the recent FERC rulemaking does not cover it. The article reported that blocking devices for transformers that shield against solar storms would provide some protection against manmade EMP. Some, but until we see the details, we should assume not much.

In particular and most importantly, we know the natural EMP threat does not include the high frequency nanosecond “shock” E1 pulse from manmade EMP that is so damaging to electronics.

Beyond this shortsightedness, Energy Wire reports that NERC challenged so-called “worst-case scenarios” from a solar event, assessing that a “century” storm would cause immediate instability that would shut down equipment automatically before critical damage could occur — as was the case in 1989 Quebec solar storm that produced a major blackout in eastern Canada and the U.S. Northeast.

No comment on what might have happened if the July 23, 2012 “near miss” of a massive Coronal Mass Ejection had enveloped the Earth . . . it missed us by about a week’s travel in our Earth orbit around the Sun.  At least some NASA experts think that we would still be picking up the pieces had it enveloped the Earth. 

Hope is not a strategy, especially in dealing with an existential threat to America.

So, the subject Energy Wire article referenced in this week’s message illustrates yet another example of why you should be skeptical of claims from products of the dysfunctional NERC-FERC creature established by the Congress, allegedly to provide a regulatory basis for assuring confidence in the grid.  But by apparent design, it is assured to provide biased recommendations.

I have discussed this issue several times (Click here for a two-year old version of the fundamental problem in this message’s related action at an earlier stage.) FERC has not been funded to perform the needed analyses to accomplish a valid regulatory function. Rather, congress has made it a slave to funding from the Electric Power Industries themselves — by requiring that key analytical functions be accomplished by NERC, which as noted above is largely funded by the Electric Power companies.

It should be noted that specific instructions of this recent NERC-FERC action have been executed without responding to persistent criticisms and recommendations from the private sector. 

For example, click here for a March 24, 2014 submission from the Foundation for Resilient Societies (with which I also serve as an outside Director) to FERC, critically reviewing, with recommendations to improve, the early framing of this action. Few if any of our views were reflected in the final regulation issued on September 22, 2016. (Actually, this was our second critique, our first is given as Appendix 1 of our March 24, 2014 submission.)

Also included in the Foundation’s submission to FERC, as Appendix 4, is our June 28, 2013 letter to President Obama with copies to all responsible cabinet level officials and agency heads, discussing this existential threat and what could, and should, be done about it.

Again, we received no response from any of the “powers that be.”

One more time, bottom line: You should take no comfort in this recent FERC-NERC publication — or much of anything else related to the Washington “powers that be” in providing for “the common defense” in view of the existential EMP threat.

To better understand the key issues, I again encourage you to review the Transcript of the EMP Commission’s 2008 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.  Click here.

Among many pertinent recommendations, it was emphasized that the Department of Homeland Security should include the EMP threat among the 15 or so scenarios that all elements of government — Federal, State and Local — should be prepared to respond to protect the American people. And, now, eight years later, it appears that Congress may leave town again without dealing with this, dare I say, urgent recommendation.

There are numerous other important observations by the Commissioners, most if not all still currently valid because so little has been done in the past eight years to reduce our vulnerability.

More “whistling past the graveyard” . . .  

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 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, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them.

Click here to make a tax deductible gift.  If you prefer to mail a check, Please send it to 500 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

E-Mail Message 160927


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