Congressman Roscoe Bartlett held a news conference today in Washington, DC about the introduction of his new bipartisan legislation, H. Res. 762, that would encourage community based civil defense preparations, including distributed generation of 20% of local electricity needs.
Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former National Security Advisor Robert "Bud" McFarlane provided statements of support for the legislation. Congressman Bartlett was joined at the news conference by experts on civil defense preparations including: Rich Andres, Energy Security Chair, National Defense University; Jack Markey, Director, Division of Emergency Management, Frederick County, Maryland; Chuck Manto, Lead, National InfraGard Electro Magnetic Pulse Special Interest Group (EMP SIG); CEO Instant Access Network, LLC, (IAN); Mary Lasky, Business Continuity, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (JHU-APL) and also chair of Howard County, Maryland's Community Emergency Response Network as well as President of the Maryland Chapter of Contingency Planners; and Marshall Hanson, Legislative Director, Reserve Officers Association (ROA).
Supporters of the bill include: Reserve Officers Association (ROA) and the Reserve Enlisted Association.
Congressman Bartlett noted, "The U.S. electric grid is one of our nation's 18 critical infrastructures. However, none of the other 17 will function without electricity. America's grid is vulnerable to widespread blackouts of extended duration. The federal government and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) agree that there are five separate Low Frequency -- High Impact (LFHI) events that could each inflict extended duration grid blackouts, potentially continent-wide including: cyber attack; solar geomagnetic storm electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), coordinated physical attack; nuclear EMP; or a pandemic. In light of these known risks, my legislation encourages communities and organizations to generate at least 20% of their own electricity demand to ensure independent operation of critical infrastructure and vital national security missions and to provide adequate supplies of basic necessities and services. It is critical that we in Congress send the message that it is in the interest of national security that every community and institution, especially our military, reestablish their capabilities to be self-sufficient independent of the grid. We also need to encourage individuals to develop and implement a plan that will provide for themselves and their family sufficient food, water and other emergency supplies necessary to weather an electricity outage when there is no one there to call."
Rich Andres, Energy Security Chair, National Defense University (NDU), said that NDU for the past three years had coordinated workshops in conjunction with other federal government agencies, academics and private sector organizations about the threat to the grid from solar geomagnetic storms. The most recent was Secure Grid 2011 held October 4-5, 2011. "Widespread grid collapse from a solar storm is a serious threat. There are two take aways from these exercises that relate to the legislation introduced today," said Dr. Andres. "The first is that the federal government does not have the resources to adequately respond to an extended duration grid outage. Local, state, and private sector organizations do have these civil defense capabilities and resources. The second is that what these local organizations lack and that the federal government can provide is threat and risk assessment capabilities."
Jack Markey, Director, Division of Emergency Management in Frederick County, Maryland, reviewed a litany of electricity outages that have affected residents in recent years including the derecho of June 29-30, 2012, the snowmaggeddon blizzard, and hurricanes. He said, "These events illustrate that loss of electricity is not unprecedented, but rather a predictable event. I am pleased by Congressman Bartlett's introduction of this legislation because it's important to raise the public's awareness of threats to the grid in order to garner support for necessary investments and preparation by families, businesses and local community organizations for measures such as generating 20% of their electricity demand." Mr. Markey also said that his office is actively collaborating with the local utility, First Energy, on measures to improve recovery from electricity outages.
Chuck Manto, Lead, National InfraGard Electro Magnetic Pulse Special Interest Group (EMP SIG) and CEO Instant Access Network, LLC, (IAN) explained the history of InfraGard. "InfraGard was initiated in the mid-1990's in Ohio. It was formed to address the reluctance of companies and organizations to share their vulnerabilities out of fear that it would hurt them with competitors or become known to bad guys. Members sign non-disclosure agreements. The FBI performs background checks on prospective members and coordinates information sharing by members nationwide. There are now 50,000 members." He added, "In the last year and a half, InfraGard established an interest group called EMP SIG. It is focused on an all-hazards approach to mitigate any threat that could cause a nationwide collapse of infrastructure for more than a month. That work is what led to the recommendation of local distributed generation of 20% of electricity and a great deal of interest in renewable sources, such as solar and wind."
Mary Lasky, Business Continuity, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (JHU-APL) and also chair of Howard County, Maryland's Community Emergency Response Network as well as President of the Maryland Chapter of Contingency Planners, coordinated an exercise at JHU-APL on October 6, 2011 as an adjunct to the NDU Secure Grid 2011. She said that "Americans have become too reliant upon government to take care of them after an emergency. That's just not realistic in the event of a widespread grid outage. Trying to ignite citizen preparation as this bill does is extremely valuable. Generating 20% of electricity locally is important because none of our other critical functions, such as hospitals, work at all or work well without electricity."
Marshall Hanson, Legislative Director, Reserve Officers Association (ROA) said, "I was in the Navy and learned in my training that that the EMP nuclear threat is real. It was intensively studied by the Soviet Union. Nuclear capability is being pursued by Iran. A non-state actor, such as al Qaeda, could inflict a crippling EMP attack if they acquired the capability to launch a crude nuclear weapon from a scud launcher on a tramp steamer. The importance of this new legislation is that it refocuses attention and effort at the community level. That is consistent with the mission and history of the ROA. ROA not only supports this bill but will encourage members to become involved in their community preparations."
A number of distinguished supporters of the bill were unable to attend the news conference but released statements about it.
R. James Woolsey, Chairman, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Former Director of Central Intelligence:
"Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has been an indefatigable leader to change the dangerous vulnerability at the heart of our civilization's ability to operate: multiple natural and man-made threats to the electric grid. Each could cause extended outages for tens of millions of Americans, our nation's critical infrastructures and vital national security assets and missions. We could see a repeat of what is now happening in India but with outages lasting months not days. Congressman Bartlett's new bill sounds this alarm once more with a different tack. It will encourage America's best in the world hackers, inventors, engineers, first responders and entrepreneurs to help lead the rest of us toward having a much more resilient electric grid. Local communities and organizations that take steps to generate 20% of their electricity load independent of the grid will strengthen our national security by becoming more self-reliant and self-sustaining."
The Honorable Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan:
"It's human nature to welcome technologies that enhance the quality of our lives while ignoring how our dependence on them poses catastrophic risks. Throughout his life and service in the House of Representatives, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has been virtually alone in understanding the complex family of natural and man-made risks. He has made it his business to focus on what could go horribly wrong and to propose measures designed to prevent them or to prepare for and cope with the results. He has been the persistent leader of efforts to identify the vulnerabilities of our national electric power grid, as well as the risks we are running by relying on a single fuel -- a fuel that is priced by a foreign cartel -- to power over 90% of all air, sea and land transportation in our country. More importantly, having defined the problems, he has taken the initiative to introduce measures that offer a solution. His leadership in shaping the Open Fuel Standard -- a measure that will enable competition in transportation fuels -- is a landmark measure that will add immeasurably to our national and economic security. It is a measure of his standing on energy issues that he has garnered such solid bipartisan support for his initiatives. Every member of the House knows that Roscoe Bartlett is the go-to man on energy and environmental policies."