This week, Heritage observed National EMP Awareness Day.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States would have truly devastating effects. An attack would change the “very fabric of U.S. society,” and millions could potentially lose their lives in the aftermath. Yet as the name “EMP Awareness Day” suggests, Americans and our nation’s leaders remain woefully unprepared to protect against this threat.
An EMP is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles. Caused by either a nuclear weapon detonated high in the atmosphere, a radio-frequency weapon, or a naturally occurring solar storm, an EMP event could cause entire regions of the country to lose electricity—permanently. Cars, cell phones, and computers would all be dead. Water, sewer, and electrical networks would fail simultaneously. Banking, transportation, food production and delivery, and even emergency services would collapse.
Yet, as Heritage has explained, despite the gravity of the EMP threat, “a survey of congressional, federal, state, local, and international measures to deal with the threat reveals more complacency than action.”
Indeed, despite the many recommendations of such congressionally mandated commissions as the EMP Commission and the Quadrennial Defense Review Panel, little progress has been made to protect the country from an EMP attack and prepare for the aftermath. And at the state and local level things are equally as bad: