CIPA: Make America Safe Again!

by AMBASSADOR HENRY F. COOPER February 21, 2017

"CIPA implements one of the most important recommendations of the EMP Commission to prevent societal mass destruction.  It directs the Department of Homeland Security to establish new national planning scenarios focused on protecting and recovering the nation from an EMP catastrophe.  All federal, state, and local emergency planning, training, and resource allocation are based on the DHS national planning scenarios." ~ Ambassador R. James Woolsey and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry

President Obama took time out of his Hawaii vacation on December 23 to sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, which included the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) that for years has been the objective of key legislators who support protecting the electric power grid from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects that pose an existential threat to the American people.  CIPA deals with manmade EMP effects, such as from high altitude nuclear explosions, and natural EMP effects, or as CIPA refers to the effects of a massive solar storm that will one day envelop the Earth, a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD).

Key Aspects of CIPA.

Section 1913, EMP and GMD Planning, Research and Development, and Protection and Preparedness, directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, not later than in the subsequent six months "to conduct an intelligence-based review and comparison of the risks and consequences of EMP and GMD facing critical infrastructure" and submit his report to the Committee on Homeland Security and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.

This DHS report is to recommend a strategy to protect the U.S. homeland critical infrastructure against EMP and GMD threats and help U.S. citizens prepare to deal with these threats. The report is to be updated not less frequently than every two years for the next six years, based on associated research and development by various agencies (in consultation with the relevant critical infrastructure councils). "To the extent practicable," it is also to be informed by the findings of intelligence based reviews and comparison of the risks and consequences of EMP and GMD, to help manage the development and operations of viable critical infrastructure.

The conclusions are to be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex. The DHS Secretary also "may" incorporate his recommended strategy into a broader recommendation to help protect and prepare critical infrastructure to resist terrorism, cyberattacks, and other threats.

CIPA directs the DHS Secretary to conduct research and development to mitigate, "to the extent practicable," the consequences of threats of EMP and GMD by acting through the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology and in consultation with other relevant executive agencies; State, local, and tribal governments; and relevant critical infrastructure owners/operators. Included are to be:

(1) Objective scientific analysis to evaluate the risks to critical infrastructure from a range of threats of EMP and GMD, to be conducted in conjunction with the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and to include a review and comparison of the range of threats and hazards facing critical infrastructure of the electrical grid.

(2) Determination of critical utilities, national security assets and infrastructure at risk from EMP and GMD threats.

(3) Evaluation of emergency planning and response technologies that address the findings and recommendations of experts, including from the EMP Commission, and include the feasibility of rapidly isolating one or more portions of the electrical grid from the main electrical grid.

(4) Analysis of technology options available to improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure to threats of EMP and GMD, including neutral current blocking devices that may protect high-voltage transmission lines.

(5) Restoration and recovery capabilities of critical infrastructure under differing levels of damage and disruption from various threats of EMP and GMD, as informed by objective scientific analysis.

(6) Analysis of the feasibility of a real-time alert system to inform electrical grid operators and other stake holders within milliseconds of a high altitude nuclear explosion.

The most important provision, from my perspective, is that under a section on National Planning and Education, the DHS Secretary is directed "to the extent practicable" to: (1) Include in national planning frameworks the threat of EMP or GMD events; and (2) Conduct outreach to educate owners and operators of critical infrastructure, emergency planners and emergency response providers at all levels of government regarding EMP and GMD threats.

The DHS Secretary's 180-day report is to describe the progress made in, and estimated completion dates for, an evaluation of EMP and GMD threats; on-going Research and Development efforts; a recommended strategy to counter EMP and GMD threats; and efforts to educate emergency planners and emergency response providers at all levels of government regarding threats of EMP and GMD events.


For an important reaction to this important initiative, click here for the excellent Washington Times commentary, "Grid protecting CIPA: Enacted, but in time?" by my colleagues Ambassador Jim Woolsey and Dr. Peter Pry. As they note, this last minute legislation, long advocated by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), responds to the 2008 warning by the Congressional EMP Commission of  EMP or GMD threats that could cause a nationwide blackout leading to the death of up to 90-percent of all Americans within the following year from starvation, disease and societal collapse.  

Indeed, CIPA directs the DHS to execute several EMP Commission recommendations, ignored for the past eight years. Perhaps the most important one establishes new "national planning scenarios," referred to in "Obama-speak" as "national planning frameworks" that, along with other "national planning frameworks," must be used by all federal, state and local authorities in emergency planning, training and resource allocation.

Thus, CIPA means that now literally millions of emergency planners and first responders across the nation - including police, firefighters, and national guardsmen - are to become part of the solution to the existential threat that is posed by manmade and natural EMP.

These local "Emergency Managers" now should organize themselves to conduct "Pilot Studies" to understand how best to exploit existing and future technology to protect Americans against these existential threats.  In my opinion, such Pilot Studies should be conducted from the "bottom up," beginning with the local and State level "first responders," rather than depending on the federal establishment to provide the know-how for best protecting the American people.

In South Carolina, we are conducting such a pilot study. Click here for my July 12, 2016 discussion of our Lake Wylie Pilot Study along with a discussion of on-going related Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) sponsored R&D on "microgrids" that might be developed further under the CIPA provisions for future DHS applications.
Lake Wylie Pilot Study

An important criticism, from my perspective, is that we NOW should be - actually long ago should have been - protecting the electric power grid with technology developed and demonstrated many years ago by the Department of Defense (DoD) to assure the survivability of our strategic systems and their associated command, control and communications infrastructure. 

I have no objection to DHS R&D to do the job more effectively, as assigned by CIPA.  But what we learned how to do decades ago still works just fine - and we don't need to "reinvent the wheel." Thus, I am more than a little skeptical of the CIPA emphasis on R&D.

Likewise, I am skeptical of reported ongoing R&D activities at the Department of Energy (DOE), as also discussed in my July 12, 2016 message. 

Woolsey and Pry note that DOE conspired with industry's private Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to produce a "junk science" study arguing that a nuclear EMP attack would not destroy electric grid transformers or cause a protracted nationwide blackout. In 2012, EPRI and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) produced another "junk science" study falsely claiming that natural EMP from a solar super-storm would not damage transformers or cause a protracted nationwide blackout.

Moreover, after subsequently being debunked by independent experts at a technical conference before the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the FERC compelled NERC to adopt another grossly inadequate standard to protect the grid from natural EMP. This FERC-NERC regulatory scheme  amounts to "having the fox guard the hen house."

Click here for my January 24, 2017 message that argued in more detail that we should "Drain the FERC-NERC Swamp!" President Trump should choose three independent and competent FERC Commissioners to fill the three vacancies on the five member FERC in order to get control of and rectify this seriously flawed regulatory arrangement that is endangering the American people. 

Woolsey and Pry also observed that the Obama Administration's DoD did everything in its power to "slow roll" and impede the work of the Congressionally re-instated EMP Commission for almost a year, by withholding funding and security clearances, to which the Commission is legally entitled.

DoD reluctance for supporting the Homeland Defense mission in general has contributed to serious impedance against exploiting well-known EMP hardening technology. Click here for my April 15, 2015 discussion of the fact that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been returning key equipment to its Underground Cheyenne Mountain Command Center to improve the EMP hardness of mission critical electronics and associated infrastructure, while at the same time support for its companion Northern Command (NORTHCOM) mission ignores the urgently needed hardening of the electric power grid and its associated critical civil infrastructure.   

As then Commander of NORTHCOM Admiral Gortney stated a year later, "NORTHCOM was born because of the 9/11 attacks, for there was no commander of the homeland. But we are not the commander in charge of defending against terrorist attacks for that is the mission of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. We are a supporting command to them in dealing with terrorist threats."

Click here for my related discussion of the dysfunctionality of this Homeland Defense/Homeland Security arrangement. President Trump should appoint/assign an informed national security team to address and rectify this very important issue as soon as possible.

With such priority attention, the inclusion of the important role of the National Guard, as is consistent with CIPA, should assure a more beneficial DoD-DHS interface with greater exploitation of DoD know-how. Provided we can get over related bureaucratic hurdles.

We are seeking in our Lake Wylie Pilot Study to encourage the linking of DoD technological knowhow via "National Guard" involvement in assuring the viability of the private sector energy community responsible for providing essential electricity to local subscribers and their associated life support infrastructure.

But at this stage, the executive branch remains dysfunctional on this critically important matter.

Bottom Lines.

CIPA is an important step forward, but much more executive branch effort is needed to make sure the needed agenda is employed. At least now it is the law of the land that the DHS is unambiguously charged by congress to address all threats to the electric power grid - physical, cyber, and manmade EMP attack & natural EMP, or GMD, events.

The past bureaucratic resistance to developing effective countermeasures is likely to continue. Thus, local and State initiatives will now be even more important, aided by the CIPA provisions that require that all elements of local, State and federal government to: 1) Engage in national planning frameworks that include the threat of EMP or GMD events, and (2) Educate owners and operators of critical infrastructure, emergency planners and emergency response providers at all levels of government regarding EMP and GMD threats.

As argued previously and again noted above, President Trump should appoint three competent, independent FERC Commissioners and charge them with getting control of the regulatory process for assuring the viability of the electric power grid. Assigning knowledgeable and competent DHS personnel is also critically important.

Rectifying the pervasive government dysfunction can help President Trump save some money and move rapidly to "Make America Safe Again."

What can you do? 

Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.

Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all "powers that be" to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper is Chairman of High Frontier and a former Acquisition Executive for all U.S. ballistic missile defenses.  He also served in several other senior USG acquisition and policy positions, including as President Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union. He is currently focused on helping local, state and federal authorities protect against the natural and manmade EMP threat by building effective ballistic missile defenses and hardening the electric grid. Otherwise, loss of the electric grid would freeze America's "just in time" economy, leaving most Americans without means for survival.


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