Issue Briefs

After Decades Of Warnings, U.S. Gets Serious About EMP Dangers

After Decades Of Warnings, U.S. Gets Serious About EMP Dangers

November 21, 2019

by Paul Steidler


For decades government policy experts and scientists have known about the dangers of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events which could cripple large sections of the power grid for long periods of time. EMP disturbances occur naturally, through solar storms. They could also happen due to high-altitude nuclear bomb detonations or through on-the-ground attacks by terrorists or saboteurs.

While the U.S. has been able to avoid a major EMP event for decades, it must play catch up on preparations. The U.S. Department of Defense has long fortified key military installations against potential EMP attacks, but there have been few steps taken to protect the civilian power grid.

On March 26, President Trump issued an executive order to coordinate the activities of the highest levels of the U.S. government to identify and take key near-term actions to protect the American grid, while also laying the foundation for longer-term, sustainable measures.

There is serendipity in the timing. Much of America’s electric grid is old and due for an overhaul, making now an ideal time to cost-effectively address EMP issues.

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The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow of the Lexington Institute, who researches, studies, and discusses energy and logistics issues. Steidler has 15 years’ experience in the research, analysis, and public commentary on energy generation and transmission issues. His work and views have appeared in such outlets as The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, Investor’s Business Daily and numerous other news outlets. Mr. Steidler is a magna cum laude graduate from Villanova University with a B.A. in Political Science and Honors. He resides in Reston, Virginia.