On 3/26, Rep. Henry A. Waxman and Sen. Edward J. Markey introduced the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act in the House and Senate, respectively. The bill provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the authority it needs to effectively address physical, cyber, electromagnetic pulse, and other threats to and vulnerabilities of the electric grid. In 2010, the original GRID Act was reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 47 to 0. It then passed the House by voice vote, but the Senate did not act on the legislation.
“The security of the electric grid is a critical and urgent issue,” said Rep. Waxman. “We will remain vulnerable to attacks that could cause devastating blackouts until security is increased and regulatory gaps are closed. The GRID Act provides regulators the authority they need to ensure that the grid is adequately protected.”
Sen. Ed Markey
“Unless we act now, the United State will continue to remain vulnerable to the 21st century cyberarmies preparing to wage war on our banking, health care, and defense systems by knocking out America’s electricity grid,” said Sen. Markey, original House co-author of the GRID Act. “The GRID Act will help secure our nation’s electrical grid against devastating damage from physical or cyber terrorist attacks or from natural disasters. Previous passage of the GRID Act in the House on a bipartisan basis is testament to our ability to reach consensus on this critical national security issue. I thank Rep. Waxman for his leadership in the House, and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to take action on this important issue.”
Rep. Henry Waxman
In May 2013, Sen. Markey and Rep. Waxman released a report detailing how the nation’s electric grid remains highly vulnerable to attacks or other physical threats. The report indicates that the lengthy, industry-driven process by which grid security standards are set results in long delays and haphazard implementation of the voluntary security recommendations the industry refuses to make mandatory.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s almost too late to get the infrastructure fixed in time so it is invulnerable to EMP, considering the global threats we face today. One EMP or nuke missile detonated at 60,000 feet over mid-America and we’re back to the stone age from coast-to-coast. It’s amazing the power companies have been fighting this. What an incredible cost we’d all pay if the grid is left vulnerable to an EMP attack or solar flare like the Carrington Event in 1859. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks and some telegraph poles caught fire. We commend Rep. Waxman and Sen. Markey for their efforts here. If it doesn’t pass, we’d think this would be one executive order President Obama should pen. The only thing we have in place now is PEP AM stations across the country where transmitters are housed in EMP-proof Faraday cages with thousands of gallons of fuel underground to power them for weeks. If an EMP event happens, these transmitters are then hooked up to the tower and emergency info can be broadcast. Hopefully some radios would work to receive the signals. Forget the cell phones—they would be rendered paper weights.