Utilities in the Lone Star State operate their own, self-contained grid. And because it is confined within state borders, the Texas government has authority to preempt catastrophe by “hardening” the system.
The potential for a long-term, statewide power failure is not something of science fiction. According to weather experts, the sun can produce massive solar storms that create ruinous coronal mass ejections or solar flares that can permanently injure electric equipment. One of these naturally formed EMPs impacted Canada in 1989, which caused daylong blackouts across half the country. A stronger strike in 1921 damaged electronic railroad switches throughout North America.
The most powerful solar storm on record, known as the Carrington Event of 1859, impaired telegraph systems worldwide and destroyed the intercontinental telegraph cable at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
In fact, NASA scientists found that the Earth narrowly escaped Carrington-like solar storm July 23, 2012. Dan Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the world would still be “picking up the pieces” had the solar flare made impact.
The EMP effect can also be weaponized. Former CIA Director James Woolsey explained that the most destructive of the EMP options remains the high-altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon. Such an operation could theoretically be accomplished by launching a single, unsophisticated ballistic missile from a freighter floating off the American coast. Other delivery systems could include low-orbit satellites and crude nuclear devices.
America’s adversaries recognize the advantage of EMP and actively promote it as a 21st century means of attack. In 2010, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a translated copy of Iran’s “Passive Defense” military doctrine, which made mention of using EMP 22 times. Meanwhile, the congressionally mandated EMP Commission stated in its 2008 report that Russia and China have considered limited nuclear attack options that “employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack.” North Korea actually practiced an EMP strike scenario in early 2013, according to Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force.
Read the complete report in the November 2016 Homeland Security Today here.
David A. Grantham Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis and a leading expert in national security matters and international affairs. Grantham is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and holds a Ph.D in Modern History from Texas Christian University.