Resolution Regarding Protection of the Nation’s Electric Power Grid from Manmade Magnetic Disturbances
WHEREAS, protecting the nation’s electric power grid and ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy are top priorities for the electric power sector and state and federal governments; and
WHEREAS, the power grid is a complex, interconnected network of generation, transmission, distribution, control, and communication technologies that can be impacted by natural events—including weather, earthquakes and geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) like those caused by solar flares—and by malicious events, including cyber or physical attacks such as electromagnetic pulses (EMPs); and
WHEREAS, the electric and nuclear sectors are the only critical infrastructure providers with mandatory and enforceable standards to help protect the reliability and security of the bulk power grid assets they own and operate; and
WHEREAS, standards can ensure that every electric utility meets a baseline level of security and the electric industry also relies on close coordination and partnerships with federal law enforcement and security agencies to help defend against hostile nation-states or other attacks against the United States, especially EMP threats from a nuclear device; and
WHEREAS, there are important differences between intentional, manmade EMPs, such as those from directed energy weapons or high-altitude nuclear blasts, and naturally occurring GMDs, such as those caused by solar flares, thus each type of threat needs to be assessed and addressed independently, with appropriate mitigation and protection strategies implemented for each; and
WHEREAS, preventing an EMP event is a national security issue, as the planning and launching of a nuclear attack on U.S. critical infrastructure constitutes an act of war or terrorism, thus the federal government is primarily responsible for preventing a high-altitude EMP as a matter of national security; and
WHEREAS, EMP mitigation solutions are a technical issue, not legislative or regulatory, and many EMP mitigation techniques remain unproven and could have unintended consequences; and
WHEREAS, cost estimates for addressing EMP threats are based on mostly unspecified or unproven technology solutions likely to be more expensive than claimed;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that given interdependences among the electric power sector, other sectors, and government, planning and preparing for EMP events should require coordinated efforts involving the private and public sectors.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, given the unproven and technical nature of EMP mitigation solutions, states should proceed in a careful and deliberate manner when considering whether to pursue legislative or regulatory approaches to EMP issues.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, until EMP mitigation solutions are properly understood and established, it is important for the government and critical infrastructure sectors to continue to coordinate and
prepare for resilience against, and recovery from, all types of malicious or naturally occurring events that could disrupt electricity.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors June 29, 2015.