In 1962 the United States government discovered nuclear EMP when the lights went out in Hawaii after a nuclear test detonation. 50 years later, we are no closer to hardening our infrastructure against such a devastating attack than we were then.
Such an attack would be beyond horrific. It is estimated that within a year, 75% to 90% of the population would be dead because we no longer have a society that can take care of itself. (Just in food production alone, 2% of the U.S. feeds the other 98%.)
Off The Grid Radio
Released: February 17, 2012
Bill: Greetings and welcome everybody. It’s Bill Heid, your host for Off the Grid Radio. Today, my guest, I’ll be talking with Ross Howarth. Ross is the vice president and general manager of EMPact America. EMPact is a bi-partisan, non-profit organization for citizens concerned about protecting the American people from a nuclear or natural electromagnetic pulse catastrophe. Ross, welcome.
Ross: Thank you, Bill. Glad to be here.
Bill: Well, it’s a pleasure to have you with us. From the standpoint of national security or Off the Grid listeners, is there any greater threat to our way of life than a grid takedown? We were talking about that a little bit before we opened up, but let’s talk about what can happen to the grid. We’ve had John Camperman on before, but for people who have never heard of that show, let’s cover this first. What is an electromagnetic pulse and what are the parameters around which we’re vulnerable concerning these solar flares. What can the sun do to us?
Ross: Sure. I’m sure your listeners probably know there are a lot of ways that the grid can go down. Anything from a physical attack to a pandemic, where a lot of people get sick. What’s particularly troublesome about when you’re talking about EMP is that you’re talking about something that can take down the grid long-term, that we can’t very easily recover from. At its most basic form an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is a high intensity burst of electromagnetic energy. Now, an EMP can be caused of a natural event, like a severe solar storm or a CME, or from a malicious act, using a weapon like a high-altitude nuclear burst.
One clarification that I want to make about what we’re not talking about is what you see in a lot of videos where this nuclear weapon goes off on the ground. There is a limited EMP effect with that, but it’s very localized, or the ones where they burst right above the ground. But, again, those are usually the ones where the blast is the problem and there’s all kinds of radiation and so EMP isn’t your biggest concern in those types of situations. This is something very different.
This is where the nuclear weapon is actually detonated above the Earth’s atmosphere. It could be something like 19 miles high or 300 to 400 miles high, but if you had one, let’s say, the height of a satellite going over the country and you detonate it in the middle of the country, you could literally take down the entire power grid at once. National experts have concluded that the consequences of a natural or man-made EMP could be long-lasting and I’m talking about in terms of months or years, continent-wide, and they could literally cripple the US’s critical electric dependent infrastructures which are highly vulnerable and largely unprotected. The EMP would literally, and perhaps beyond recovery, take down the national critical infrastructure including power, communications, transportation, banking, finance, food, water, basically everything that our modern civilization and the lives of the American people depend upon.
Bill: So the more you live on these complexities of society, the more vulnerable you are. It takes down computers and everything associated with that. What I was thinking is what you said at the beginning as you were explaining it. If someone did some kind of a localized EMP in New York and took out the financial things in your sector and your credit cards didn’t work, just even that itself would be catastrophic.
Ross: Yeah, you could critical our financial infrastructure by a localized attack. That would be, in itself, devastating. Everybody can see that the world economy is very fragile as it is.
Bill: Yes, it’s fragile the way it is, Ross. You’re right. Good point. Well, I wanted to ask you another question. This is one of those crazy things. I was playing basketball at a noon rec league and one of the fellows that was playing worked on an aircraft carrier. We finished up playing and everyone was sitting around talking and he probably said some things to me that he shouldn’t have said. After talking to him, he was back on leave for a little while, but I was convinced that we have EMP weapons that we can utilize. He told me at that time that we could take out, within 100 miles of an aircraft carrier; quite easily they could knock any town out. Fry anything electrical, including computers and everything. I got the impression that we have it. I never thought about the implications of it at that point.
As I was reviewing the literature for today just to talk to you, that idea came to my mind, that conversation that I had. If that technology is out there, the Soviet’s probably have that technology. If the Soviet’s have that technology, when the Soviet’s broke up, some of those scientists are probably lurking about someplace. I have no idea where, but that’s the kind of scary stuff that you think about. Man, who also might have technology that could damage us?
Ross: Well, the truth is, an EMP has been part of the war design, the superpowers for a long time. The United States, Russia, China all have the ability to launch an EMP with the intent of in part, knocking down their adversary’s ability to respond. Whether or not they intend to follow that up with a nuclear strike or conventional attack, it’s definitely something that’s been known for a long time. They’ve talked about it for a long time. In fact, Russia has actually threatened our congressmen. Our EMPact America president, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, was in the room one time with some congressmen. He was former congressional staff when Russian Duma said, and this is not by the way in the ‘80s– I cannot tell you exactly when or what it was about– but it was in the ‘90s. They basically said, “If we wanted to hurt you, we’d launch an EMP over the United States and cripple the country.”
The thing is the EMP is one of those things where you can knock the country down without destroying it. If you were later wanted to occupy, there’s no radiation. There’s a lot of reasons you’d want to do that. Not to mention the fact that it may or may not result in a nuclear attack from the other side because while a nuclear weapon was used, there is no radiation or anything. Dr. Pry has described it as a high tech way of killing people the old fashioned way. What they die of is not a blast of radiation or any of those things. They die from not having water, not having food, not having medicine, from societal collapse, things of that nature. We’ve known about this a long time.
On the solar side, where the giant Siamese come off the sun, the real big one, the Carrington event that John Camperman, who’s fantastic, probably talked to you guys quite a bit about was in 1859. So they’ve known about that for a long time. Back in 1859, we didn’t have an electronic infrastructure. There was also a large one in 1921. Back then though, they did light on fire the things that we did have, like the cables and things like that.
Ross: Back then, you’re talking tube technology. I think it was 1962 that the U.S. government discovered nuclear EMP when they did Operation Starfish Prime in the middle of the pacific, off of Hawaii, about 800 miles off of Hawaii. They were just doing high-altitude nuclear testing, and when it went off, instantaneously the power went out in Hawaii. The people in Hawaii didn’t know about the test and the people doing the test didn’t know that the lights went out, but they knew something had happened. They called in some of the top scientists in the country. They called in Dr. Bill Graham, who later became the head of the EMP commission, that was one of the ones that put out the reports for the first time telling the American people what was going on.
The EMP commission started in 2001 and put out reports in 2004 and 2008, which was the first time the public was made aware of this on any large scale. Those reports are on our site. They came out, they discovered this, and it’s been part of the game ever since. Not only was this early threat from Russia, but even recently Pravda, which is the unofficial mouthpiece of the Russian government, recently put out an article where they said the United States should go home while they still have a chance to go home. It also talked about the EMP and if the American people really understood it, they would be terrified. And they are not the only ones.
Bill: Sure. I was thinking too, with Russia and China, and I know Chinese military intelligence, understands this as a vulnerability. With Russia and China you have trade partners to some degree. You have people that, at least historically, have understood mutually assured destruction whether you think that’s a good thing or not. We’re not going to blow you up because we’re worried you’re going to blow us back up. Some of the other players here, and I’m thinking of some of the more crazy Islamist states, when you bring this apocalyptic perspective into it and you’re talking about people we wouldn’t consider rational by our standards, those folks really might have a different perspective on all of this. Wouldn’t you think?
Ross: Much different. It’s an excellent question. I’ll tell you that we actually had also received an admission, which they never do, from the Russians, that they had some brain drain. Russians have something called a super EMP weapon. These weapons, by the way, you don’t need a kiloton-sized weapon. It can be a very small weapon. In fact, some of the smaller weapons are more devastating when it comes to EMP because it’s more about this fizzle and this displacement of energy. What they had said was there was some Russian brain drain that did go to North Korea and this was years ago. They said be careful because North Korea is probably going to have super EMP weapons. North Korea, when they did try their nuclear weapons, was about the right size and had the right signature to identify them as being super EMP weapons. The Iranians have been at the test. So there is discussion and clear collaboration between these countries.
To the other point about motive and all the rest, yes, we’ve had, with the Russian people, they cared about their country, they were very much like us, they were a superpower, they were very rationally minded. Whether you like it or not, that appeared to work. If you have a dictatorship where the primary person who was there is all of a sudden gone and there was some turmoil and someone was trying to hold onto power, where they were in some sort of a death row, they might do something. Or if you had a state where they were actually trying to bring about the end of the world because that was part of what a radical set within them thought was something that would bring back the 12th Imam, certainly.
I’m probably not the best person to talk to. I know I’m not the best from our group because we have some of the best experts in the world who talk about that. We have some great videos on our site. We actually ended up doing a briefing not long ago, down in Washington D.C. about Iran, their status, what’s going on with the bomb, their mindset. There’s a direct link to it on our site, but you can get to it by going to www.iranhasthebomb.com or www.iranianbomb.com and there’s a group of people on there talking about that very thing.
Bill: And your site is www.empactamerica.org to check that out as well.
Bill: I was thinking, too, sometimes a simple embargo brings out the worst in people. Ask the Japanese. That’s how we got into that war, by embargoing. What might seem something that makes total sense to us in this putting an embargo on Iran could have really adverse consequences as well. I think the leadership there, the Iranian people are certainly wonderful people but the leadership there is full of crazy people. You continually squeeze them and what’s a crazy person do?
Ross: When these discussions happen and people say even if Iran did have the bomb they don’t have a ballistic missile yet, and that’s arguable. One of the other points I want to make is one of the nightmare scenarios of EMP commission was what they call a scud in a bucket. It’s a scenario where anybody can take even a mid-range missile or a scud. You can pick them up on the black market. You could put those things inside of a container, you can drive it off the coast, and you could launch this thing up and take down the power grid. Whether you were a terrorist or a rogue state, and it’s questionable about who but if you did something like that, the other unique thing about it is if you had a nuclear weapon, why would you do that as opposed to sneaking into the country?
Well, that requires a lot. You have to get past a lot more defenses to bring the thing into the country. You also have to trust a lot more people. If you were able to bring a ship off the coast and launch one of these things up and the thing went off in space, there’s no debris to check, so who did it? You scuttle the ship, there’s no way to know who did it and you can have complete control on the ship. You can have scientists, security and everything else. When you look at that and say okay you could do that off the east coast and probably take down the whole grid because it would collapse across or at least there would be a financial problem or you could launch one off the east coast and the west coast or one off the gulf. The next thing that people bring up is missile defense. Missile defense is not capable of taking care of that type of a threat.
Bill: The technology for this stuff is hard and Air Force One’s hardened, right? Against this?
Ross: That’s right.
Bill: We’ve got a number of other aircraft that are hardened in the event. How much of our military would you say is hardened?
Ross: I don’t have security clearance or the knowledge to tell you that concretely but from everything that I’ve heard, as you said, Air Force One, anything that has to do with our ability to launch a nuclear strike directly, a lot of the ships and things like that. A lot less is hardened now than what was hardened in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Clinton and others started waiving EMP because they said, “the Cold War is over and we don’t need this anymore. If we’re going to get into a fight with anybody it’s going to be a pure or near pure and that’s not going to be an issue.” It probably would be an issue. When you look at our military facilities within the continental United States, they are very highly dependent on the civilian power grid.
Ross: How much fuel do you think they have? How much food do you think they have? Everything that we have set up in our country is now thanks to the Japanese model of just in time. It’s all set up so all you need is a phone and a credit card and you can get what you need. Except in this kind of a situation.
Bill: Let’s take a look at the science side of it. You would probably want to do this in the central part of the country if you were going to do this on a larger scale. Maybe a little west of us in Illinois, up in the sky pretty high, you detonate some EMP weapon. Take us through a little bit what’s likely to happen. What gets it first? Obviously our computers go. Our cars go. If you’ve got an old car, you kind of want to keep your old car if it doesn’t have any chips in it because you might be the only one driving around. If you’ve got a ‘64 Buick or something, don’t sell it. Is that right?
Ross: Yeah. I’ll just get a little technical but I won’t go too far because I understand there are probably a range of listeners.
Ross: Basically, there’s a little bit of a difference between if you had a solar storm issue, if you had an EMP and if you had a Super-EMP. I will just really quickly explain. The EMP, when it comes to the nuclear, has three pulses. There’s an E1, which is this fast flush of electrons that can knock out things right down to small objects like computers and cell phones and things like that. The middle pulse is kind of like a lightning strike so I’m not even go into that one other than to say that a normal surge protector won’t protect against an E1 because of how fast it is. It might protect against an E2 but for the fact that it’s probably going to be blown out by the E1, it will create further damage that won’t be protected by a surge protector. The E3 pulse is a long pulse that comes down and doesn’t hit the small stuff but what it does is lands on all of the larger things that act like an antenna like our wires that are in our power grid. When it comes down, it picks up a bunch of energy, goes down and destroys those large transformers.
We have thousands of transformers in our country. We’ve also got these really huge transformers that are the size of a small house and cost a million or more dollars. We’ve got 300 or 400 of them that the country is absolutely dependent upon. What happens is we have less than 1% spares of these things and they get melted. It’s not like the 2003 blackout where the power is out but you get it back up or we had an October surprise storm here in western New York. It’s not that kind of thing. That’s what makes it so devastating because the utility companies have so few spares and we don’t make these things in the country anymore.
Bill: How many spares do they have?
Ross: They have about 1% spares.
Bill: So 1%.
Ross: 1% spares. The problem is there are only a few foreign suppliers of these things. We don’t make them in this country anymore. They’re made in South Korea and Germany and it takes 18 months or to a year to produce just one of them. And they’re unique. You can’t just plug and play these things anywhere.
Bill: Assuming that there are no other supply-demand disruptions. In other words, that’s the equation now but what if you had orders from all over? Would it be that far out or would it be six years out or something?
Ross: Let’s take the 1859 storm, that solar storm scenario. If that were to happen today, that would be a global event. Everybody would be down. Get in line when it comes to transformers, if anybody can operate at all, is basically the scenario that you’re dealing with there. Again, if 1859 was thought to be a 100-year storm, anybody who does the math knows that we’re kind of already overdue for that. That one there is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
Bill: It’s going to happen.
Ross: That’s going to happen just like we had the 100-year Fukushima Tsunami that caused a problem. That’s the big thing. So once those things are down and you don’t have transformers. Those are the transformers that are able to get power from one area of the country to the other and there are a lot of things that are involved in that, including balance load and all the rest. Even if it’s a smaller area you are still talking about potentially much larger collapse because we have three power grids. We have an eastern grid, a western grid and Texas. That’s kind of false too because they’re all still connected. They can potentially take each other down too.
Bill: Let’s go through this scenario. Let’s say you get a big burst, a flare from the sun, you get a Carrington-like flare, or you get a Super-EMP and you have an E1 effect?
Ross: Right. The reason I laid out the difference with the E1 and the E3 is because if you had just the solar piece of it, you’d be talking about anything that was the power grid or plugged into the power grid or eventually depended on power from the power grid, would go down. But not necessarily right away. In other words, if you had a large Carrington event, your car might start the first time you go to start it, even if it was a modern car. However, where are you going to get gasoline in 24 hours from now if you can get it right now? Because the pump at the gas station is tied into the power grid. You can’t.
Bill: Ross, stuff that’s connected to the grid– This is important for some of our listeners, especially ones that own our solar generators– Stuff that’s connected to the grid is going to fry out.
Ross: Yes. Even if you had a generator at your house that was one of the ones that was tied into the power grid to flick over could fry, so in a way one that is completely disconnected in your garage, in that scenario, would be far better off.
Bill: Right. I’m saying a lot of them have our little solar generators, so assuming that’s just sitting there, that’s probably going to be fine and not need to be hardened. Because a lot of people call us with the solar generators and want to know, “What do I need to do?” But in that circumstance, with a solar flare that grabs onto these high power lines and then fries these big transformers out, as long as you’re not plugged into the grid, you are fine. For the most part. We can’t say that.
Ross: Yeah. For the most part.
Bill: It’s always a qualified statement because you don’t know what you’re running into with electricity.
Ross: Right. And there’s also issues of whether or not there’s a ground induced current or things like that.
Ross: But, yes. For the most part that’s true. Another thing that people do, whether they’re talking about the solar scenario or the nuclear scenario, is they look at getting a building, a faraday cage or a faraday box or a faraday bag. Basically, all that is—It’s a metal skin with some insulation between whatever electrical components you’re trying to protect and the outside. It doesn’t have to be thin; it just has to be completely sealed with no holes in it.
Bill: Could it be touching? It has to not touch though, right?
Ross: Right, that’s the insulation piece. So in other words, I’ll give you a simple example. You could take a metal garbage can and fit inside of it cardboard or foam or a plastic garbage pail inside of it. You could put in your electrical components. It needs to be a very tight fitting lid and some people would put tin foil around the rim to make sure that it’s really tight fitting. Push that thing on there and essentially that’s a faraday cage. That should be able to work.
Think of it, the same thing as a reverse of a microwave. You put stuff in the microwave, there’s radiation in the microwave but it’s not getting to you. You’re just creating that kind of a barrier. In fact, some people have said that you could take a microwave, cut the cord off so it doesn’t pick up any of the EMP and put some stuff in a closed microwave that’s off and has the cord cut off as a faraday cage. But then you start getting into some of the complex things about frequencies and wavelengths and how many volts per meter are going to be involved.
Bill: Ross, I have another question for you. This is again, for people that have solar generators. They could make a makeshift faraday cage with a garbage can. Our solar generators, in case you don’t know, are maybe the size of a little Electrolux vacuum cleaner.
Bill: If you’re going to want to make a faraday cage for you’re solar generator, you take a metal garbage can, right?
Bill: Now you need some insulation on the inside of that.
Bill: So you go to Home Depot or someplace and you get a bunch of insulation. You get three-inch insulation or something?
Ross: Yeah. You just don’t want it touching the outside. The way that the Faraday Effect works is that the power really rides on the very outside skin. It doesn’t really penetrate all the way through. You don’t need a lot of insulation, is my understanding. Now, some people double wrap things. They’ll wrap something in tin foil and then put it inside or they’ll put it inside of a faraday bag and there are companies that sell that type of thing, like Tech Protect, things like that. But essentially, yes. In fact, the other way that we’ve looked at doing is taking a metal garbage can and then buying a plastic garbage can and just cutting off the grab handles because then it just nests right inside it like a Russian egg.
Bill: Oh, I see. I see what you’re saying. That’s a great idea.
Ross: So then you’ve got a rubber one or a plastic one right inside. You’ve got a great protection around it.
Bill: You could put your computer in there. You could put a lot of things in there.
Ross: You could put your computer in there. Put a lot of things in there. In fact, if you’re talking about smaller things… Let’s say somebody had a receiver and they wanted to listen to everything from Ham to Noah or whatever, even just an AM/FM radio. You could take something like that and not only put it in a garbage can but something much smaller. How about a clean paint can? All you need is a metal outside that is completely sealed and you need it to be a tight fitting lid.
Bill: That is very cool. Very helpful for listeners. I would start playing around with these ideas. Are there any ideas for this stuff on your site? On www.empactamerica.com?
Ross: Yeah. We’re putting up a lot more because we’re starting a new site that’s going to compliment ours, which we haven’t exactly announced yet but I will announce here, the name of it. It’s going to be www.preparehub.org. Our mission is to educate on EMP but because we have the knowledge we have and because we’re connected with a lot of the people we are, we get a lot of questions. So we’ve been asked to do everything from putting out the information, to creating a forum where people can communicate about these ideas and where we can put up some of the experts and some of the equipment. I also plan to talk to you guys about doing the same thing and having space on this thing.
Bill: Sure. We’d love to have space there with you and to submit some of our stuff, especially our solar generator. We’ll have to send one over to you as well to make sure that you get to have a look at it.
Ross: The people who are following what we are doing are very interested in just information about how to live off the grid. One way or another, essentially, people are going to be living off the grid if we don’t really change the way we do things. I don’t know how likely that is to happen and I’m happy to talk to you guys about some of the political side of that.
Bill: Let’s do that. First, we went through the technical side and here these transformers go down and all the attendant electronics with food and water you can’t process, sanitary equipment doesn’t work. That’s your biggest threat. If you live in a big city, obviously the good folks at the municipalities can’t make you clean water. Wouldn’t you say that’s the most important thing, Ross?
Ross: Yeah. When you look at the rule of three, right? You can’t go more than three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food. The air, again, isn’t going to be a problem. We’re not talking about nuclear debris or radiation in the air. Your biggest problem is water. In the municipalities, the way that that works for people who don’t know is basically they take the water, they purify it, and they pump it up into these towers using electric pumps. And that’s why when your power goes out for a short time, your water still works. Because it’s gravity. The water’s up in the tower. It’s still getting pushed down. But eventually, that elevated water is gone and they can’t pump more up. That’s why if you’ve been in a longer power outage, they start issuing boil orders or things like that. Essentially, all those systems leak. So eventually, when the water pressure gets so low, outside water starts coming in and they can’t guarantee the integrity so they start with a boil order and then from there it goes downhill.
One of the things that we’ve done… And we’ve been around for three years and we really wanted to stay out of doing anything commercial because we don’t want there to be any questions about why we do what we do. But people had asked us to help them to find their way to get the things that they need. So far, we’ve just been giving them referrals to five, six different places where they can get things. On water, for example, we’ve talked about the Berkey filters. I know you guys have some great paratrooper filters. Patadine has some good filters. If I just had nothing else and I was trying to figure out what’s the first thing I need, I would want a filter that doesn’t require to be changed out every couple months. I would want something that could be cleaned off, that could be used long term because that’s the thing that would be most likely to save my life.
Bill: So then you also have the food issue and you’ve got a couple days’ food supply, right? Don’t most people think three? You’ve got about three days’ worth of food in the distribution hub and at the grocery store and at their distribution centers. Wal-Mart’s got all of its distribution centers. There’s another point too, about vulnerability, where Wal-Mart and companies like Wal-Mart have done such a wonderful job with just-in-time delivery.
Bill: You’re probably most vulnerable because those folks use high tech equipment to maintain those inventories. When you check out of a Wal-Mart, that closest distribution center knows that that gallon of milk was sold that second. So imagine taking that away. You take away one of the most efficient companies. You can argue the politics of Wal-Mart as a separate show, probably. Certainly, they’re one of the most profitable, interesting, successful distributors.
Ross: The truth is though, everybody is kind of following that model to some degree.
Ross: I think that the average American citizen, probably the ones that listen to your show know better, but the average American citizen probably thinks because of the Cold War and everything, that there are just stockpiles of food, enough for everybody indefinitely, somewhere. That’s just not the case. There is some but first of all, the government is very good at taking care of the government. That food is first going to go to the people who they deem it needs to go to first and that may or may not be you. It may take longer than three days. Even FEMA and those guys are now coming out and saying it could be a little bit longer.
Let’s go another step. Let’s say that something like this happened. Right now, we’ve got 2% of our population are farmers and feeding the other 98% right now. They’re only able to do it because of modern technology. They’re only able to do it because of the modern irrigation, the modern farming equipment and all the rest. Right now, we’re in a situation where, what we just described. We’d be back in a technological point, where the last time we were in that, we probably had the same population that is currently living on Long Island right now.
Bill: Great point. Yes.
Ross: And those people knew how to do things. They knew how to plant. They knew how to take care of themselves. And that’s not even getting into the problem of heirloom seeds versus hybrid seeds and whether or not you can even replant what you have.
Ross: I think it’s really important for people to have both so one, so they can get a hardy, best-chance crop in but they also need to have the heirloom seeds and they need to know how to use them. Even if they just start a couple of potted plants in their windowsill, they need to understand how to germinate seeds and how to grow.
Bill: I’m going to do a little segue here. You’ve got Peter’s… Going through your wonderful DVD set, America in the Dark, which I suggest everybody needs to get this and watch it and go through the materials because it is indeed sobering but you’ve got to face up to these issues so that you can go from point A to point B. You want to be in a state of readiness and preparedness. I have a little clip from the DVD of what Peter Pry said. I thought it was really especially helpful and you provided a good segue for us to go into that. So let’s listen to this and I’ll get your comment on this part.
DVD: Imagine what you might have to do in the event that our society suddenly collapsed and you couldn’t call the police, call fire emergency services, you couldn’t get food from the grocery store. What would you do? My father’s generation that I refer to, that had grown up in the Great Depression, they experienced such times. They had a little garden. They had food supplies available at the house. They were prepared to go survivalist if they had to because they didn’t know that there’d be another Great Depression but they were always concerned about the possibility that there could be some other kind of a disaster, a natural disaster or war where you might be on your own and you might have to depend on yourself.
This is actually part of a great American tradition of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. That tradition ought not to be allowed to die. It’s a very important tradition and existed for good reason. If people looked to protecting their own families and looked to themselves first, not only would that be good for themselves personally but it’s good for the larger society. The more people who can be self-sufficient like that, the less of a burden they would impose in an emergency on the rest of our societal capabilities to care for them. In helping yourselves, you’re actually also helping others. It would help the larger society recover from this. EMPact America will also have ideas on what people can do in more detail to provide for their families in such an emergency.
Bill: So talk a little bit about Peter. Peter’s not a guy selling heirloom seeds or he’s not selling solar generators or anything. He’s one of your spokesmen. Talk a little bit about him and what you think prompted that perspective.
Ross: Yeah. It’s interesting. First of all, Dr. Pry is a ten-year veteran of the CIA where he was an analyst. He then was a congressional staffer. He’s the director of the Nuclear Strategy Forum. Originally, he was one of the people around when we started EMPact America. He started out consulting us on EMP and we just kept growing closer and closer and decided he was a good person to be our president. He worked for Congressman Bartlett. He was actually a senior staffer on the EMP commission, which that’s the commission that I talked about that after 2001, September 11, the government looked around and said, “We just got sucker punched.” What else could be potentially devastating to us? So okay, there’s a pandemic, an asteroid could come down. There are only so many things but if those things happen, there’s not a lot you can do about it. The other really big one was EMP.
And so they stood up this commission and they had Dr. Graham, who was at Starfish Prime and he was also the senior science advisor for Ronald Reagan and basically one of the top experts for our country. And they brought these guys together and they did these reports in 2004. They had a long one in 2008. Then they were supposed to continue the commission but it was moving from military classified to civilian. That’s when they stood up the HS. They were supposed to go under there and they just didn’t pass it. So we asked Dr. Pry to come work with us. That’s how we did it. He’s a guy, and I can’t get into a lot of it, his personal life, but he does have a farm and he does believe in rugged individualism. He’s not a survivalist. He doesn’t sell anything.
In fact, EMPact America has a policy that none of the people who are in the leadership at EMPact America can even invest in a company that has to do with EMP protection or any of those types of things because we don’t want there to be any question about why we’re doing what we’re doing. Now, the one thing that we are changing is that we’re setting up this prepare hub site, where we are going to put a community exchange. CX is what we’re calling it, which will basically be an online store. We’re doing it on a not-for-profit basis. So we’re going to sell stuff at ridiculous prices but it’s going to be members only. There’s no charge to join EMPact America but we’re doing it primarily to help our members who have asked us for that.
Bill: Let’s not forget, you’re doing it to get the word out.
Bill: That’s the main focus of your not-for-profit.
Ross: Yeah, the main focus is the educational campaign. That’s absolutely right.
Bill: If you go to www.preparehub.org and you pick something up there, you’re doing a couple things at once. You’re going to have stuff really competitively priced but you’re also taking any profit that you would make and you’re going to take that and you’re going to use it for resources that are going to help get this word out, which is a real cool thing.
Ross: The one thing I want to point out is we’re really going to try to run it at almost cost neutral. To the extent that people have decided that they found something else that they liked or somehow less expensive, feel free to do it. Don’t feel like it’s a donation to us. We’re really just doing it as a community service. It’s not up yet. We’re building it now but I thought it would be worth telling you guys about and I do want you guys to be a part of it as well. The other thing I would like to get to before we go, and we don’t have to do it now, but is some of what’s going on on the education side and the political side at the national level.
Bill: Real quickly, before we go onto that, let’s move into that. Just notes from a 10-year CIA guy that also has inside access to all of this stuff and he’s saying, “You really ought to learn how to start a garden. Make sure you have a water supply and so forth.” People that have ears to hear, as the Bible says. It’s probably pretty good advice.
Let’s move onto the political side and getting the word out. We talked to Camperman a while back. He was telling us that there were issues with getting all of Congress on the same page in trying to get a bill through. You had some heroes and you had some guys that didn’t buy on. You had all of that going on, a little bit of political intrigue. Tell us where we are politically on this.
Ross: The long and short of it is that really in 2009, they started getting the fire lit under them. When I say them, I’m referring to the House, specifically. There were some classified briefings of some of the members of the House. There were some heroes on both sides of the aisle, including Bennie Thompson and Yvette Clarke on the Democratic side and Trent Franks and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett on the Republican side, as well as others. I don’t want to leave anyone out. Basically, they had some hearings. They introduced the grid act, which was HR 5026. They passed it unanimously out of the committee. It went to the floor again. Its consent passed through the House. Eventually it went over to the Senate. When it got over to the Senate, in part because they tried to introduce cyber, they tried to take an all houses approach, which theoretically there’s nothing wrong with.
The problem is that when the rubber hits the road, you start getting into jurisdictional issues and money issues and that kind of thing. Basically, it just sat on the vine and died because that congress ended at the end of the year. So basically what happened is, in February of 2010, they stood up, again, Trent Franks, Roscoe Bartlett, Yvette Clarke. They stood up a congressional caucus on EMP. They launched it February 15th. We went down to DC. At the same time they launched the Shield Act. The Shield Act is HR 668. The basics of it are that it would amend a section of the Federal Power Act, it would encourage cooperation between industry and government and development and implementation of standards and processes that would address the current shortage and vulnerability of the electric grid. It wouldn’t do everything that we need but it would be the difference between having a national catastrophe and having something that we might be able to get out of.
To give an example, the EMP commission, when they did their study, they came out and said that if we had an attack like this in the first year, whether it was solar or nuclear, we could lose up to three-quarters of our population. Other experts have set it at much higher that that, probably closer to 90% because of the fact that people don’t know how to take care of themselves and because the other breakdowns, but purely from just not having water and not having food and disease and things like that. You can imagine anybody who is on life support or who requires any medication that they wouldn’t be able to get, would be some of the first victims.
Bill: Sure. Yes.
Ross: We’ve set up on our website a couple of things that can happen. We set up www.guardthegrid.com, which is where we have an online campaign. If you go to www.guardthegrid.com it will just take you to a section of our site where you literally just fill in you information and it matches you up with your federal representative and sends them a notice out. That’s hugely important right now because we’re actually coming up on a very sad and embarrassing anniversary. Early February was when the Shield Act came out and it’s been sitting for a year in sub-committee. So they need a push. They definitely need a push to get this going. There’s all the heroes out there that are doing all they can but everybody else needs to hear from the American citizens and that they’re concerned about this. We also set up www.shieldact.com, which is for people who are willing to get more involved. They can do a call campaign and there’s a lot more information and background material on there.
Bill: So it’s really incumbent upon, as Cicero used to say, “If you don’t participate in citizenship, you deserve to lose it.” In this case, if we don’t participate in the protection of the power grid, you deserve to lose your power on some level. I don’t wish that on anybody but I’m just saying, hey it’s us. It’s our country. So let’s use the resources we have, especially what Ross’s organization has done. Let’s use those resources to inform our politicians, our representatives of the right thing to do. When you think about it, Ross, you get a lot of bang for the buck. I think that all of us are small government people. But at some point if you can harden, especially some strategic– the water and so forth– and you can do it for a minimal amount of money, I would say that’s probably better than having some museum for artists that they spend millions and millions of dollars on all these crazy projects. Why not do some of these things that could guarantee that we could climb out of this? On one of the videos, I think, if there was a Super-EMP, I think they were talking about losing 80% of the population. Was that not on the DVD?
Ross: Yeah, in the first year.
Bill: In the first year. That’s a bad thing. So we don’t want to lose 80% of the population. These are real things and these aren’t crazy tin foil hat people telling you this. These are people in the know, telling you that these are issues.
Ross: Yeah. You had mentioned the America in the Dark DVD. First of all, we’ve been giving those away for free and if people contact us, we’ll figure something out. But most of the videos that are on that are actually on our website. Just go to the media section and go to videos and conference videos. You’ll see there are people on there, including Newt Gingrich, who did the announcement.
Bill: I saw him on there. I was impressed that he came.
Bill: I’m not endorsing him but I was impressed that he understands that this is an issue.
Ross: Right. Well, and he’s not the only one of the current GOP candidates. He’s the most vocal of them but if you look, a lot of them are talking about it. Mike Huckabee came to our conference up here at Niagara Falls. There are people in there who are former directors of the CIA. You name the agency. Plus all the local people that were involved here. And not only that but you’ve got all these congressional reports that have come out and all these things also are available on the site but there’s the EMP executive report from 2004, there’s the final report from 2008, the Academy of Science report that came out, Severe Space Weather and Camperman was involved in that when it came out in 2008. America’s Strategic Posture commission came out with something in 2009. There was a high impact, low frequency event piece that came out from the North American Folk Power System in 2010. FERC itself, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, had an EMP study in 2010. There was an In the Dark military planning exercise that we participated in along with Professor Cynthia Ayers and General Crosniak, down at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. It happened in 2011. There’s much more than that.
These are all credible people and the thing is, when you talk about the political side of it, I’ve interviewed and spoken with a lot of congressmen personally and to senators and I’ve said, “What’s it take for an issue like this to kind of get on your radar?” They said, “Well normally if it was something like Obama Care or one of these things where everybody is chiming in, we just kind of tally the numbers and look at where things are. But on something like EMP, where we may not even know about it but if we do know about it, it becomes an issue for us where even if we get like a dozen from our constituents. We get a dozen messages, that’s a big deal. That’s something where we are going to put somebody on it and we’re going to start looking at it.” It seems crazy when you’re talking about the level of congress, but I’m telling you right now that the people who are listening to your show can make a difference by just doing those campaigns that I talked about. The one takes literally one minute to complete.
Bill: Everyone should go do that. I have one more question for you, Ross. Can you watch the DVD that National Geographic put out? Can you watch that on your site?
Ross: You can’t watch the whole thing on our site. There’s a trailer to it but at the National Geographic site, I think you can watch it there for like a dollar. We also give out those DVD’s. Just a quick story for you. When we did our big conference, National Geographic showed up there. It was a three-day conference. There were over 700 people glued to their seats for three days. National Geographic wanted to do a special on this and we helped them do that. They filmed quite a bit here. Many of the people that you’ll see in our conference videos are people that are in the Nat Geo special. So we certainly encourage everyone to watch that. It’s a great, fantastic primer.
Bill: It’s an eye opener. What’s cool is it kind of makes you feel like you’re involved, the setting… There’s a setting in which there’s a crisis and you’re kind of sitting at a table with the executive branch. Is that kind of your impression of it?
Ross: Yeah. It’s basically a presidential briefing. What would you do if you were in the room with the President and this happens? You’re getting briefings from these scientists.
Bill: It’s extremely well produced, as all of the National Geographic stuff is. When I got your package, I went through that first and you don’t want to stop watching that because it just keeps pulling you in. Especially because of the big names of the people that are on it and I think a lot of those are your folks, as you said. It’s pretty impressive. What do you think, as we close down… What are your final thoughts, Ross?
Ross: This is a lot of information to take in. I recommend obviously, that everybody goes to the website, www.empactamerica.org, that they learn about it, that they do go to www.guardthegridcom and to www.shieldact.com and get involved, even that little bit. That they continue following with you guys and consider going to the next level. Try to be a little bit more prepared and think about what you would do and what you would need most if the power were down. It doesn’t really matter why.
The final thing I’ll leave you with, as a point, is that everybody knows about what happened in Fukushima, right? There was a huge tsunami. It was an earthquake followed by a tsunami. The real issue there was that they lost power to the nuclear reactor. So here they had this problem. And the problem wasn’t because of the contained reactor. The problem was because of the spent fuel pool. Virtually every power plant has a spent fuel pool. Those aren’t contained. Those are basically like an Olympic sized pool that they take the fuel rods after they’ve run down and they put them in this thing. Water is a great insulator so they just keep pumping cold water into the pools. And as long as they do that, everything is fine.
But if for some reason, you can’t pump the water in there, that water boils out in somewhere between eight hours and a couple days and the rods become exposed and then they melt down and you essentially have a bunch of Fukushima/Chernobyl type events that would occur. Now in Fukushima, you had the power industries throughout the world wanting to make sure that that thing didn’t become a problem. And you were also talking about an isolated area in a very small country.
What would happen if we had the power down for an extended period of time? Maybe the generators for the power plants would work, maybe they wouldn’t. Even if they did, how long could they fuel those things? We’ve got 104 reactors in the United States and that doesn’t include ones that are on our borders, in Canada or Mexico. The point is most of them are concentrated on the east coast. This is another problem that we’re looking at and what other groups are looking at but they’re all solvable. The EMP issue is solvable. The reactor issue is solvable. Because you just have to figure out the ultimate means of keeping this stuff pumping.
You had talked about cost. Just to leave you with that, as far as protecting the most critical infrastructures on the EMP side, we’re talking about as little as $100 million but the whole thing could be done far better at about a billion and for 10 to 20 billion, you could virtually eliminate EMP threats. Those numbers sound pretty big but they’re really not. When you talk about over 300 million Americans, you’re talking about pocket change. I would take out the money for myself and everybody I know and mail it in today if I could, if that would solve this problem.
Bill: Well, we just ran up another trillion dollar deficit so I think a billion dollars for President Barack Hussein Obama, is probably not that much money. Real quickly, what is President Obama’s perspective on all of this? Is he leaning towards it or against it? I haven’t really read too much about it.
Ross: It’s really interesting. We’ve gotten some communications through some of the staff. I’ve seen some interesting moves, like he put out PPD 8, Presidential Policy Directive 8, which talks about taking a more national perspective in preparedness and getting beyond being able to prepare for something like a Katrina. One of his senior science advisors put an article out about the Great [inaudible 0:56:49.7] Storms so I think that they are interested in that. They also quietly put out another manual on how to survive a nuclear war and fallout and all the rest. It’s really hard to say. I haven’t gotten anything direct. I’d like to think that they would pick this up, especially if Congress put it through.
Bill: So, the Obama administration is putting out survivalist manuals? Is that what you’re saying, Ross?
Bill: Where would you find that if you had Google handy?
Ross: The PPD 8 piece that I’m talking about is really more taking steps at the federal government level but that’s on our site. PPD 8 is on there. The other manual is on there too, the nuclear manual. So what you do is when you go to our site, go to learn about, go to resources. It’s probably under other resources.
Bill: All right. Fabulous.
Ross: I think that’s where you’d find it.
Bill: Well there’s a lot there at www.EMPactAmerica.org. Ross, I just want to say keep up the good work. I think we all benefit from your labors and your staff’s labors and everybody. We really want to thank you for all you’re doing and send everybody to your site. Check it out. There’s a lot of good stuff there. Ross, thank you again.
Ross: Thank you and you guys keep up what you’re doing because you’re probably saving a lot of lives.
Bill: Thank you so much and we know an hour of your time is very valuable. Thanks for spending it with us. We’ll look forward to talking with you next time.
Ross: Thank you.