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U.S. Powerless to Electromagnetic Pulse

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We wouldn’t feel it, we wouldn’t see it, we wouldn’t hear it. The enemy satellite would be too high, and its nuclear weapon too small, to notice on the ground. Until the power grid goes down.

It’s not time for a flashlight it’s time to pray, Woolsey says. Studies show as many as nine out of 10 people would die.

“This is a nation-ending problem. If the power grid goes down, we don’t come through as Americans.”

The bad news was delivered to the Cybersecurity and Electromagnetic Pulse Legislative Working Group. Democratic Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda formed it after she was appointed to a Congressional taskforce.

“This is an order of first magnitude for us. To make sure that we are protected and to make sure that the nation protect itself.”

Not all EMP’s come from enemy satellites. Solar flares were the original threat and they’re not going away. One was first detected in 1850 when telegraphs stopped working. The come every 150 years.

Peter Pry, executive director of a national Homeland Security Taskforce, says a lot more than telegraphs are at stake these days.

“You don’t just knock out the lights. We have 17 critical infrastructures in the United States, food, water, medical care, telecommunications, investments, the works. And all 17 of those depend on the power grid.”

Two national studies in 2008 were sobering, including one by a congressional commission.

“The two estimates are either two thirds of us would die in the United States as a result of this, or 90 percent. That’s the range of the commission.”

The choking point for the grid are some 2,000 massive transformers. The 340 ton pieces of equipment are custom made and take more than a year to manufacture.

Florida Power and Light spokesman Bill Orlov said his company is on top of the problem, but he couldn’t talk specifics.

“We have a comprehensive cyber security monitoring program for all of our computer networks and have been involved in cyber security for some time.”

If there is any good news, fixing the problem is relatively easy. One solution? Giant surge protectors. And the cost? Just $2 billion.