Government Wakes Up to EMP Threat

Feds move to protect U.S. from nature's version of catastrophic weapon.

After several delays and repeatedly ignored warnings, the federal government is starting to recognize the threat posed to national security by an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, event. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, has begun taking steps to protect the nation’s power grid from at least the natural version of an EMP by proposing new regulation standards addressing the impacts of a geomagnetic disturbance, or GMD. The regulations are coming almost a year after Congress passed the Secure High-Voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage, or SHIELD, Act to “protect the critical infrastructure, electric power grid, communications and transportation, banking and finance, food and water.” The Act was passed to attempt to protect the electric power grid from a GMD generated by a blast of geomagnetic particles from the sun, which could destroy 300 or more of the 2,100 high-voltage transformers that are the backbone of the U.S. electric grid and leave over 130 million people without power. GMDs occur when solar storms on the sun’s surface send out streams of electrically charged particles toward earth, where they interact with earth’s magnetic field.


This interaction could potentially generate EMP events that would send geomagnetically induced electric currents, or GICs, through transmission lines and through power transformers, wreaking havoc.


Kemo D. 7

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