Now is the Time for All Good People to Come to the Aid of Their Country

by CYNTHIA E AYERS December 17, 2012

You can now TAKE ACTION on a matter of extreme importance!  An extraordinary window of opportunity for the concerned public has opened up-an opportunity to help keep a potentially catastrophic scenario at bay-but action must be taken before the 24th of December.  Please, for the sake of our sovereignty and our very survival, use this opportunity now, and use it wisely.

The timing coincides with the release of results from a survey on the beliefs of Americans about catastrophic events.  The potential long-term loss of electric power due to a collapse of the electric grid (the subject for which action on the part of the public is now needed) was considered by respondents to be one of the three most worrying scenarios presented within the Wenzel Strategies survey. 

The study showed that over 60% of American voters believe a catastrophe of historic proportions-one that would "kill a minimum of one million people"-will occur during within their lifetime.  It further revealed that 37 percent expected such destruction to occur within "the next five years."  Although most of the respondents (74%) noted an over-dependence on the electric grid, with few (only 26%) believing they could survive a two-month period without electricity, even fewer (11%) claim to have actually prepared (in a significant manner) for such an event.  

It is unclear as to whether the survey included queries about the willingness to do something to ensure prevention of a catastrophic scenario, but the responses from that line of questioning would have been intriguing.  One of the first questions I am always asked when discussing the potential for a "grid-down" environment is "what can we do to keep this from happening?"

Now-this very minute-you CAN do something-the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has called upon the public to take action-to provide comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR).  The FERC's proposal is intended to address the potential for extensive damage to crucial grid components due to the impact of solar storms (geomagnetic disturbances [GMD]) by seeking reliability standards from the industry leaders responsible for the reliability of the bulk power system, The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

I have previously written about the NERC (the industry leaders) and their ability to act as an obstacle to addressing grid vulnerabilities in my article "U.S. Critical Electric Infrastructure: the Battle for Truth."  The topic of that article was an April (2012) meeting held to discuss reliability issues involving the effects of geomagnetic disturbances to vital components of the electric grid; and, as noted then, the battle continues.  The current window of opportunity for action is based on the proceedings of the April 30th session-the FERC is trying, to the extent and limits of their authority, to get the NERC to do the right thing.   You may be thinking that more regulation (in a generic sense) is not necessarily a good thing, but PLEASE TRUST ME-in this case, it is absolutely necessary to our survival.  We no longer have the luxury of relying solely on the hope that industry leaders will suddenly "see the light" and voluntarily harden the grid. 

What can you do?  Respond to the proposal-provide a response within what is called a "docket" - in this case, Docket RM12-22-000, issued October 18, 2012 << http://ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp >>.  The FERC NEEDS YOUR INPUT.  If the only responses they receive are from representatives of the power industry, we will remain vulnerable and will eventually experience a collapse of the electric grid.  This is a problem for which relatively inexpensive solutions exist-but the public needs to show that we desire/demand protection.  This is your chance to participate in changing the course of a path that we have long been on-a path that will, if we do nothing, lead to a very bleak future for our country.  

Consider the ongoing travails of the Hurricane Sandy victims.  Many are still without electricity.    

"Electricity is the difference between feeling safe in well-lit buildings and streets, or vulnerable in the dark. Between food kept well-preserved in refrigerators and water pumping through pipes, or dinner spoiling and taps gone dry. Between communications and productivity, or isolation and economic losses - which are now forecasted, from Sandy alone, to reach $50 billion.

For some, electric power is literally life or death: heat on cold night, access to vital medical services."  (NTS, Nov 15, 2012)           

The losses from Hurricane Sandy alone outstrip the estimates for grid protection over the entire country.  And that doesn't take into account the deaths that have occurred as a result of the initial onslaught of water, wind, and (subsequently) snow.

Submit a paragraph or two, explaining why protection of the grid is important to YOU and YOUR FAMILY.  If you feel comfortable detailing specifics, please do so, but it is most important, at this point in time, to give the FERC your support in this matter.  

If you need further help with the process of filing, try contacting the folks at EMPact America. They can explain, in detail, why grid protection is necessary and what you can do, as individuals and communities. 

There is an excellent explanation of the FERC proposal at the Troutman Sanders website <<http://www.troutmansanders.com/ferc-issues-a-nopr-proposing-reliability-standards-addressing-potential-impacts-of-solar-storms-10-22-2012/ >>, and my article, "U.S. Critical Electric Infrastructure: the Battle for Truth," is but one of many that discusses the nature of the problem at hand.  For a more extensive explanation on the need for protection from the effects of severe space weather, see John Kappenman's amazing article "A Perfect Storm of Planetary Proportions."  For a military defense and first responder perspective, read Ken Chrosniak's "Electric Power Blackout: The Power of One."  There are a plethora of reports, congressional testimony, articles and books on the topic, ready to be taken advantage of for substantiation of the need for grid protection.  

We, the public, need to provide the stewardship of safety and security worthy of the American people.  The electric grid is KEY to our safety and security, yet our voice has been largely missing in the equation.  By allowing the grid to atrophy, we have gambled with our continued survival.  If we are to survive an event that could cause the demise of civilization as we know it, we must fight, and we must fight now-every bit as hard as the soldiers we send out to do battle.  We must fight as hard as the coalition of tribes in the Great Sioux War-those involved in the Battle of the Little Bighorn against the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment.  We must fight like warriors to defend our families, our nation, and our very way of life. 

Though "the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say [or do] here," we must all participate in changing the course of history, or we will be doomed to repeating a period of history for which we are ill-prepared.   

*The opinions noted within this article are those of the author, and cannot be attributed to any government or non-government entity to which the author has been associated.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Cynthia E. Ayers is currently Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. Prior to accepting the Task Force position, she served as Vice President of EMPact Amercia, having retired from the National Security Agency after over 38 years of federal service-a period that included 8 years at the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership.


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