A former CIA director and former executive director of the EMP Task Force are charging that the Obama administration is failing to protect America from a potential power grid-crippling solar storm, choosing instead to conduct more studies on a potential disaster that could kill 90 percent of the population.
The article by former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former EMP Task Force executive director Peter Pry begins by applauding President Obama for being the first administration “to recognize that our high-tech electronic civilization” is vulnerable to solar storms and for warning the public that a rare “once-in-a-century geomagnetic superstorm” could destroy the power grid. Similar storms hit Earth in 1859 and 1921 but haven’t hit since.
But Woolsey and Pry said that the National Space Weather Action Plan – unveiled by an Obama-approved commission in October – does nothing. Woolsey served under President Clinton.
“It is only 38 pages long, and is not really a plan,” Woolsey and Pry wrote at NationalReview.com. “It is a plan to develop a plan to protect the nation from space weather.”
“The ‘action’ in the ‘Action Plan’ is to do numerous studies before taking any real action that would protect the national power grid,” they wrote. “Federal scientific and research bureaucracies, such as NASA and NOAA, make their living by doing studies.”
There have been, the men wrote, “enough studies”
Failing to protect the grid isn’t insignificant. The Congressional EMP Commission, on which Pry served, estimated that if the power grid was down for a full year, 90 percent of the population would die from starvation and lack of medical care, Woolsey and Pry wrote. The grid could be down for an extended period of time because many parts of the grid are custom made, taking months to manufacturer and replace.
“Seven years ago, in 2008, the Congressional EMP Commission spent nearly a decade developing a plan to protect the national electric grid and other critical infrastructure from ‘all hazards’ — including nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, solar storms, and other threats. The National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have also done excellent studies on the threat to the nation from solar storms,” Woolsey and Pry wrote.
They continued, “The White House owes the American people not more studies, but concrete actions to protect the grid — now.”
The National Space Weather Action plan, the men charged, relies “too heavily on public-private partnerships with the electric utilities.”
“Big government trusting big business to protect us against space weather is where ‘crony capitalism’ could get millions of Americans killed,” they wrote.
The two men added that they wish Obama would give the “kind of priority to space weather and grid protection that he has lavished on climate change.”
The power grid nearly was taken down in 2012, when the sun experienced an extreme solar storm and emitted a coronal mass ejection (CME) that narrowly missed Earth, NASA and other scientists reported.
“I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” the University of Colorado’s Daniel Baker said 2013. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.”
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