Texas lawmakers and national security experts say the state’s electric power grid — which is independent of the rest of the nation’s power grid — is vulnerable to a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, which could have devastating effects on both the state and the nation.
Six members of the Texas state Senate, including members of both parties, are co-sponsoring legislation that — if passed — would begin taking steps to secure the state’s electric power grid from an EMP attack, an event that former CIA director James Woolsey and other national security experts have said is a real and credible threat both for Texas and for the country as a whole.
“The electric power grid is vulnerable to what legitimate experts classify as high impact threats,” state Sen. Bob Hall, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 83, said while introducing the bill before the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce on Wednesday — the same day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said relations between the U.S. and Russia are “at a low point.” An EMP attack, Hall said, would be the “most debilitating to critical infrastructure because it has the ability to disrupt, disable and irreparably destroy electronics over a wide geographic area.”
“For some, the threat posed by an EMP can be hard to conceptualize,” Hall added. “However, this threat is not science fiction and its consequences cannot be overstated.”
“Electricity is the third most important thing to sustaining life. The only two things more important to sustaining life are air and water,” added Hall, a former Air Force officer and engineer. “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.”
The bill would create 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.
“America’s adversaries recognize the advantage of electromagnetic pulse and promote it as a 21st century means of attack. Iran mentions EMP over twenty times in its military doctrine,” David Grantham, a fellow at the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, told The Daily Caller. “Evidence suggests that North Korea even simulated an EMP attack in 2013.”
Grantham was one of several national security experts to testify on Wednesday in favor of securing Texas’ power grid from an EMP attack.
Dr. Peter Pry, chief of staff for the Congressional EMP Commission, testified in support of the bill, which he called “vital to the security of Texas as well as the nation.”
“One of the things that’s new in the EMP world is the military doctrines of our potential adversaries,” Pry said. “They don’t plan to come after us just with nuclear EMP — it’s a combination of all these threats: physical sabotage, cyberattacks and EMP.”
Pry named Russia, China, North Korea and Iran as countries that could hit the U.S. with a debilitating EMP attack.