Drain the FERC-NERC Swamp!

by AMBASSADOR HENRY F. COOPER January 24, 2017

"There's a very, very dangerous decision being made today by the [Federal] Energy [Regulatory] Commission on how we protect ourselves from electromagnetic pulse [EMP]. It is being designed as stupidly and as destructively as possible . . . If I were [President Trump] it's one of the things I would literally repeal late tomorrow . . ." Newt Gingrich on Fox and Friends, January 19, 2017

See below for the full interview with the former Speaker of the House and currently close Trump advisor, including this important excerpt that begins at 3:15.  As Newt correctly anticipated, the three Democrat Commissioners (two seats are vacant) issued a last minute Obama administration regulatory directive that, unless corrected, will lead nation's energy companies to grossly underestimate the threat to the electric power grid-with consequences that could lead to the death of most Americans.

Click here for FERC Order 830, which approved Reliability Standard TPL-007 (Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events) submitted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and refused to rehear the objections formally filed by the Foundation for Resilient Societies, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). 

Click here for my September 27, 2016 criticism ("Whistling Past the Graveyard-Again!") of key fallacies behind this FERC regulation, now re-emphasized by FERC's refusal to address the key concerns of these organization, all the while pretending to address them, as FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur then falsely claimed was a "no-regrets strategy."  Then, and now, this Congressionally mandated FERC-NERC regulatory arrangement  is actually leaving all Americans vulnerable to an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat, while pretending to deal with it.

Perhaps the most important fallacy was Newt's stated concern on Fox News that the regulation was designed "to get the energy companies to invest in stopping the lowest grade kind of problem, which is a solar flare . . . that happens occasionally and which we should protect against [because] it could knock out a huge part of our system . . . But it's the easiest thing to stop. But what we really need to worry about are manmade pulses . . . from a nuclear weapon, maybe produced by the North Koreans, the Chinese or you name it. . . "   

This shortsighted FERC rule means that when the "powers that be" ever get around to addressing the more threatening problem, they will have to start all over again in upgrading whatever they do in response to the less threatening threat. The "manmade" EMP threat includes a much higher amplitude low frequency component and contains high frequency components that are not part of the "natural" EMP threat. 

As we have discussed many times previously, if we protect the grid from the "manmade" EMP threat, we will also protect it from the "natural" EMP threat - but the converse is not true.  Click here for my more detailed July 16, 2013 explanation - aptly titled "Time for Action to Counter EMP".

It's now "long past" time for the action suggested there, including for responsive ballistic missile defenses against the "manmade" EMP threat, especially from the South. It also briefly discusses the need to protect our nuclear power plants so they can help restore the grid after a major blackout.

The more stressful "manmade" EMP threat underlies the heart of Newt's criticism. I also understand these FERC-NERC regulations even underestimate the magnitude of the "natural" EMP threat from a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) caused by a massive coronal emission (CME) - like the July 23, 2012 event that barely missed the Earth.  

Click here for NASA's notice that had that emission crossed Earth's orbit a week earlier, the nation's electric grid would have been lost for months - if not years, and most Americans could have perished within a year because of starvation, disease, and societal collapse, according to EMP Commission testimony eight years ago.  The lethargy of those managing our current electric power regulations and the power companies is apparent.

Even though FERC-NERC is finally addressing the "natural" EMP matter - however incompetently, they continue to ignore the more threatening manmade EMP threat. And the government is completely dysfunctional in dealing with the issue. The Department of Homeland Security does not even include such threats among the national threats it charges all government sectors to expect and against which they should prepare.

Hopefully, General, now DHS Secretary, John F. Kelley will address this matter - as he promised in his response for the record as part of his confirmation.  He was asked for his assessment of the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP), ground-based missile defense (GMD), cyberattack, and physical attacks to our critical infrastructure. He responded:

"All these threats, in addition space weather, pose potentially catastrophic dangers to U.S. infrastructure, particularly our energy, transportation, and telecommunications networks, which are the lifeblood of our economy. Mitigating these risks to an acceptable level is vital. The Department has a critical role to play. I strongly support missile defense and a robust U.S. nuclear deterrent as important components of defending the U.S. against catastrophic threats. In addition, however, there is much the Department can do in helping to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from these catastrophic threats and events. Should I be confirmed, I will pay particular attention to these threats . . ."

That's a good start - let's see how long it takes for DHS to include EMP among the national scenarios against which all elements of government are charged to prepare. And to recommend how to rectify the dysfunctional organization of the Federal Government that assures no timely effective response to such scenarios.

Click here for my February 25, 2013 discussion ("Who's on First?") of these organizational problems - regrettably still current after almost four years. No one below President Trump is responsible, with the needed authority, to rectify the current vulnerabilities. Click here my previous discussion of the related systemic FERC-NERC problem that President Trump should rectify as soon as possible.  This certainly fits with President Trump's stated emphasis that his administration would "Put America First!"

As Newt said, President Trump should repeal the subject FERC directive immediately; and I would add that he should appoint new FERC Commissioners who will represent him by putting America First - not the electric power industry, which is reality of the current "self-licking ice cream cone" arrangement.

Specifically, President Trump should take at least the following steps:

  • Block if not repeal this FERC Order 830 and in future reviews take into account the related objections and recommendations formally submitted by the Foundation for Resilient Societies, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA);
  • Carefully fill the two FERC Commissioner vacancies - President Trump should choose carefully and make sure they represent his views rather than continuing the Obama tradition of doing the electric power companies' bidding;
  • Direct that no FERC directives be issued without explicit approval from him until his Commissioners compose the majority (3-out-of-5) - there will be a third vacancy in July, if more immediate action is not possible.
  • Mandate that the re-established EMP Commission report directly to him, through his Director of the office of Science and Technology Policy - with the coordination of the National Security Advisor, and task the Commission to recommend as soon as possible appropriate next steps to rectify the FERC-NERC problem; and
  • Direct the re-established EMP Commission to recommend how best to rectify the dysfunctional roles and missions among the various U.S. Government departments and agencies associated with effectively countering the existential natural and manmade EMP threat.


In closing this week's message, I'd like to thank those who tried to get this FERC-NERC message through to President Trump and to put it in the public domain - urging measures be taken to stop the despicable FERC action until after Trump administration could review it and replace it with one that properly takes into account the omitted manmade EMP Threat. I believe our message got through and that the Trump "powers that be" decided to wait until they were in charge and hopefully then, as Newt recommended, repeal the January 19, 2017 FERC action.

Click here for Michael Maloof's World Net Daily article ("Obama to Leave U.S. Vulnerable to EMP Attack") and here for Peter Pry's Newsmax article ("An Obama Parting Shot: No Nuclear EMP Protection") - both of which include references to an informative letter by EMP Commission Chairman William R. Graham. And there were numerous other more private exchanges - no doubt leading to former Speaker Gingrich's comments on Fox News.

I urge you also to make our concerns known and, for starters, help "Drain the FERC-NERC Swamp!"

Stand by for what our new President does on these key issues to "Put America First!"

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 www.highfrontier.org 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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