Trump Signs Ambitious EMP Preparedness Executive Order

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by Daisy Luther

Author of Be Ready for Anything and The Blackout Book

After years of the government blowing off concerns about an electromagnetic pulse, President Trump has signed an executive order that will put EMP preparedness in the hands of the White House.

What’s in the executive order?

The Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses is a first step toward learning more about how an EMP would affect us and how to protect critical infrastructure.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has the potential to disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems.  Human-made or naturally occurring EMPs can affect large geographic areas, disrupting elements critical to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity, and could adversely affect global commerce and stability.  The Federal Government must foster sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective approaches to improving the Nation’s resilience to the effects of EMPs. (source)

The Order outlines the responsibilities of specific offices to help get the country ready for a threat to the grid and sets up a 4-year plan.

It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private-sector engagement.  The Federal Government must provide warning of an impending EMP; protect against, respond to, and recover from the effects of an EMP through public and private engagement, planning, and investment; and prevent adversarial events through deterrence, defense, and nuclear nonproliferation efforts.  To achieve these goals, the Federal Government shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and, for adversarial threats, consult Intelligence Community assessments.

(b)  To implement the actions directed in this order, the Federal Government shall promote collaboration and facilitate information sharing, including the sharing of threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies (agencies), the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate.  The Federal Government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance.

Sec. 4.  Coordination.  (a)  The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), through National Security Council staff and in consultation with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs.  The APNSA shall, on an annual basis, submit a report to the President summarizing progress on the implementation of this order, identifying gaps in capability, and recommending how to address those gaps. (source)

In 2017, those in the know were aghast when the EMP Commission was defunded by Congress.

What is an EMP?

If you’re not familiar with the term “EMP” you’re in for a shocking awakening. An electromagnetic pulse is one of the biggest threats out there against our well-being.  Back in 2008, the EMP Commission warned of the extreme consequences and experts concluded that 9 out of 10 Americans could be dead within a year of such an event.

So what is it?

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a high-frequency burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of changed particles. A catastrophic EMP would cause the collapse of critical civilian infrastructures such as the power grid, telecommunications, transportation, banking, finance, food and water systems across the entire continental United States—infrastructures that are vital to the sustenance of our modern society and the survival of its citizens.

An EMP event can occur naturally from a great geomagnetic storm, or it can be man-made through the use of a single, crude nuclear weapon delivered by a primitive missile, and the effects would be virtually identical. (source)

With the possibility of an EMP from either our enemies and our sun, it’s definitely an existential threat to which you should pay attention.

The havoc that such an event would cause is pretty difficult to imagine – and even worse, we don’t actually know how bad it would be. One Second After, a fictionalized tale of an EMP, has turned many a person into a prepper.

Some say that talk of an EMP is exaggerated. Others don’t.

After the Congressional report came out in 2017 about the risk of an EMP from North Korea, many mainstream outlets took to the airwaves to convince the public that it was overblown, if not a total hoax.

I asked my friend, Dr. Arthur T. Bradley about his thoughts on whether an EMP was a legitimate threat or a gigantic hoax. Dr. Bradley is an electrical engineer at NASA and has done a lot of scholarly research on the possibilities of EMP and space weather events. He’s a prolific author and his book Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms is a classic that belongs on every prepper’s bookshelf. (Find all of his books here.) Needless to say, Dr. Bradley is a pro and knows that of which he speaks.

Here’s his very thorough answer:

To address whether or not an EMP is a scam, we should first ask what it is we’re wanting to deny. An EMP is simply a broadband electromagnetic pulse. Such a pulse can be created by the sudden release of energy, such as a spark gap or on a larger scale, a bolt of lightning. Likewise, a very large explosion can release an EMP due to gamma rays ionizing nearby air molecules. EMPs from these events are well understood, and there are countless technical papers addressing the phenomenon. Even without expert confirmation, most people have experienced the phenomenon when their radio, phone, or TV suddenly “pops” when a bolt of lightning strikes nearby. Simply put, to say that “EMP is a scam” is to deny science.

The real question at hand is are the effects of a nuclear-generated EMP really as significant as people claim. The short answer to that is no one knows for sure. The US government observed EMPs during nuclear testing in the 60’s, such as during the Starfish experiments, and it was identified as a possible weapon to disrupt an enemy’s infrastructures. The Russians also did extensive EMP testing during the same period, including the Soviet Test 184 in 1962 that caused extensive damage on the ground, including destroying the Karaganda power plant.

The US Air Force later built a very large $60 million wooden structure, known as ATLAS-I (aka Trestle), to study how best to harden systems against an EMP. More recently, the government commissioned a group of technical experts to assess the nation’s vulnerabilities to such an attack.

This council was known as the EMP Commission and issued a Critical National Infrastructures Report in April of 2008. In it, the commission discussed in detail how the nation’s critical infrastructures and citizens could be disrupted by a high-altitude nuclear-generated EMP, and the feasibility of hardening military and civilian systems. The EMP Commission was later reestablished in 2006 to make specific recommendations on reducing our susceptibilities.

Their conclusion was that an EMP “has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power,” and “damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more.” The loss of electricity would lead to the subsequent disruption of every other infrastructure, including food and water distribution, telecommunications, banking, transportation, emergency services, government, and energy production.

Whether or not the commission’s assessments would prove accurate is impossible to say, since no country has ever suffered a wide-scale EMP attack. What can be said is that a group of highly-trained experts commissioned by the government came to some very dire conclusions about the effects of an EMP attack. 

In fact, there have been several EMPs of which we know.

While some folks want to wave off concerns, there’s some history that tells is the warnings may not be exaggerated. In this in-depth article that discusses exactly what an EMP is, the author shared four examples.

The first is the Carrington Event of 1859, which was the first documented event of a solar flare impacting Earth. The event occurred at 11:18 a.m. EDT on Sept., 1 and is named after Richard Carrington, the solar astronomer who witnessed the event through his telescope.

The second event is the Star Fish Prime tests. In 1962, the US government launched a 1.4 megaton nuclear warhead about 250 miles into the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The pulse results were much stronger than expected. It damaged street lights and microwave links in Hawaii, 900 miles away. The EMP was so intense that it was not accurately measured because “it drove much of the instrumentation off scale”.

The third event was a Soviet EMP test called “Test 184”. It happened around the same time as the Star Fish Prime tests. Not many details have been released from this. Although the warhead was not as powerful as the one from Star Fish Prime, it was exploded about 180 miles over the populated area of Kazakhstan.

What is known is that the EMP from Test 184 knocked out a 600-mile underground power line (shielded) that was buried 3 feet underground. It caused fires to the power station that the line was connected to. It also damaged diesel generators. (Most of the details have not been released and/or have remained classified.)…

…The final event I’ll mention here is a CME that hit Canada on March 13, 1989. A powerful solar flare set off a major power blackout that left six million people without electricity for about nine hours.

According to NASA, the CME disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Québec generating station and even melted some power transformers in New Jersey. NASA scientists have concluded that this event was only about a 1/3 the strength of the Carrington event. (source)

So, it’s definitely not impossible, although we do not know for sure the extent of the damage.

The Executive Order is a step in the right direction.

President Trump’s Executive Order is a step in the right direction when it comes to a threat like EMPs. But, as every prepper knows, you can’t wait for the government (or anyone else) to save you in the event of a disaster.

My personal plan for long-term grid interruption doesn’t include fancy generators and equipment. In fact, it’s pretty low-tech. If you’re on a budget, don’t spend a fortune on stuff that could potentially become very expensive paperweights.

Here’s an excerpt from my article on low-tech preparedness:

If money is an object in your preparedness endeavors, (and let’s face it, money is an object for most of us these days), then focus your dollars on preps that are sustainable without electrical power.  Instead of trying to live the exact same life you are living right now, only fueled by an individual generator, look for low-tech solutions instead.

This reminds me of people who stop eating gluten but still want to eat exactly like they have been eating their entire lives, only now with expensive gluten-free baked goods that cost 4 times the price of their wheat-filled counterparts.  When things change dramatically, accept the change and adapt to it, instead of trying to maintain the illusion that everything is the same.

Whether you can get power from an outlet in the wall or not, the necessities of day-to-day life will remain the same:

  • Water
  • Shelter and Warmth
  • Food
  • Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Light

The ultimate preparedness goal should be to provide those necessities without any help from the power grid, generators, or fossil fuel. (LEARN MORE about planning for a long-term disaster)

When my youngest daughter and I lived in the North Woods of Canada, we lost power frequently throughout the year. Lots of folks in the area had generators that they would fire up when the power went out, and that was a viable solution since gas stations were available and fuel was pretty much unlimited as long as you could afford to go get it.  We were on a tight budget, however, and we adapted our situation to live without power during those outages.

After the first couple of outages, we had worked out most of the bugs and we even began to look forward to our time without power – it was like a little vacation from the regular workday.  As plugged in as our society is, power is not actually a necessity – it’s a luxury, and we can live without it as long as we are adaptable, creative, willing, and prepared. (source)

Your skills and local resources will count more than anything in a situation like that. Read more about low-tech prepping and why I suggest it here, and check out this book about preparing specifically for EMPs and solar storms – I strongly recommend it.

What do you think about this executive order?

Do you think this Order will help get the nation more prepared for an EMP? Do you think it’s too late for that? On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “it is my biggest worry” how concerned are you about an EMP? Why do you feel that way? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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15 Responses

  1. Personally I believe that they’re a day late and a dollar short on this. This is something that I knew about back in 2014. They procrastinated too long. I don’t see how on earth they plan to prevent it from happening or even minimize it for that matter. ACTIONS are always louder than just mere words. They’ve been dickering around with it for years b/c of “the cost” to help or eliminate this situation altogether, however I just think they need to “STEP IT UP NOW” and get done “quickly” what has to be done to eliminate as much catastrophe as possible. YES, it’s been a big concern for my family. We don’t need this to happen at all cost. SO thank GOD he’s at least taking the initiative to do something, and of course at this time something is certainly better than NOTHING. Lets’ just hope it’s NOT to late.

  2. As a systems coordinator, I think about access interruptions a lot! Doesn’t take much ‘behind the curtain’ to take something offline. Here are some answers to your questions:
    Do you think this Order will help get the nation more prepared for an EMP? In some ways, yes. This Executive Order (EO) will create regulations that will guide the various sectors to research and implement more hardened systems. Might even release a few $$$ for the effort, too.
    Do you think it’s too late for that? Yes and no. Time has slipped past and improvement to critical infrastructure has not occurred. It is the “one second after” scenario where its only too late if we realize it after the fact. Imagine getting into a nasty car accident and thinking immediately afterwards: “I should have worn my seat belt.”
    On a scale of 1-10…? 10, right up there with a Cascadia Subduction Zone EQ.
    Why do you feel that way? Many lifeline systems are unimproved, single points of failure, and difficult to repair/replace. Also, as our dependency on these increase, it makes it more difficult to adapt in a successful way. Kudos to you and your daughter for looking at those interruptions to power as opportunities. That is the right mindset and your actions followed appropriately to the conditions you were faced with. I can’t say the same for my neighbors, coworkers, or leaders. It won’t be pretty.

    1. I agree with SirGuy and Wandakate completely in that I like that the Executive Order will revitalize the EMP commission, but enough with the reports already. We already have reports recommending the proper actions to take to protect the grid. Words are fine but action is what’s required. If nothing else pass tax credits for public utilities AND require them to take the needed actions. Make the credits equal the expenses and no one should complain, nor should utilities be forced to raise rates to pay for those remedial actions.

      In terms of preserving our civilization EMP prevention should be a 10 as we can actually do something to prevent it from capsizing our boat as opposed to the Yellowstone Supervolcano popping off.

      Daisy, congrats on another fine article.

    2. Spot on, especially with the CSZ. Not a question of “if” but rather “when”. So many are so ignorant and not hard to imagine 90% of them not surviving the “long haul”. My question is if other nationalities would seize the opportunity to do us even greater harm during our moment of confusing weakness?

  3. We have had reports for many, many, years, but nothing was done about the suggestions since (according to) the power companies it would cost too much to harden the grid. So this action is long overdue, but what can we expect? 4 years to make reports (most likely just like has been reported so far) and no action. Yes the military and I am sure the elites have done some work on their systems, but as usual money talks. As we know, sorry to say, all the reports the gove does seems to go nowhere. And I feel this one will have the same effect. Just like it taking a action that effects the correct people (elite, rich, politicians, nwo, etc) nothing well be done for the common folk.

  4. “An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a high-frequency burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of changed particles. ”

    I believe the word here is CHARGED, not changed particles.

  5. As I read recently, it could be that the reason the government has done nothing previously to harden the grid is because it expects an imminent cataclysm, not just a “fixable” natural disaster. The earth has a history of cyclical, civilization-destroying cataclysms and we’re due for another one at this time, so hardening the grid would be a waste of energy and money. Various agencies are subtly hinting at this as they increasingly lengthen the time they suggest our grid could be down, and how we should correspondingly have enough preps to last for that length of time.

    So IMO government should be focusing on teaching people how to live WITHOUT electricity rather than on hardening the grid, which in the end may be a worthless endeavor. With that same amount of money, they could flood TVs and other media with practical advice on how to perform daily chores and grow their own food when the lights go out permanently. With that money they could also build a mini-bunker in each yard and stock it with necessities, including seeds and gardening tools. In other words, they should teach us how to live sustainably and simply, because the alternative is death.

    1. And after flooding ppl with info what would happen ? Most likely millions of complaints because they missed game of thrones on tv or there net time was cut off.. People in general would NOT care and don’t want to hear about it.

      You might hurt their feelings and unnecessarily scare them, hell they might try to pass a law abut it and label you a fear monger, fake news, racist -(they’ll make an excuse) bigoted white supremacist…

      your only going to trigger the snowflakes.

  6. It is a no-brainer that the US should generate pretty complete protection against an EMP strike. There are several nuclear powers, some hostile. Putting a single missile on a boat and disguising the source so that retaliation would be difficult would not be hard. No real targeting is needed – just have it explode high so that tie impulse bounces off the ionosphere somewhere over the middle of the country and you potentially knock out all the computers, the power grid, the communications for almost all the US, most of Canada and much of northern Mexico . . . . . all with a single weapon. For countries like North Korea or China through proxies or a terrorist group mounting it on an anti-aircraft missile or many other weapons it would be an easy way to throw the US into complete economic and social chaos that would take us decades to recover from. The US needs to harden our power grid, develop circuit breaker technologies to prevent transmission of the burst signal, install backup equipment to be stored in Faraday cage shielded rooms to replace vulnerable assets, and take other step to render the problem moot.

  7. I’m glad that the government is FINALLY acknowledging the possibility of a grid smashing EMP or solar flare event, and the fact that the infrastructure is WAY overdue for an overhaul. Unfortunately, I fear that in typical government fashion it’s a case of too little too late. Best to try to find your own low tech alternatives and take care of it yourself.
    On a scale of 1-10, I’m thinking about a 6 right now, but the threat increasing exponentially over the next few years. I think the government target of 4 years to get ANYTHING done is far too optimistic.

  8. I think it’s waaaayy too late. What I envision is not another Carrington event, rather war. And within the next couple of years.

    Secondly, I think the amount of damage an EMP will cause is serious, but overblown.

    In looking at the world, and its politics, the U.S. has two main enemies—the reborn Soviet Union under Putin, and communist China. Add to that that Putin and his top military leaders don’t believe in MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), rather they believe that they can not only fight a nuclear war, but win doing it.

    Now add in another factor, both Soviet Union and China face declining populations. That means that their militaries are at their peak strength now, and will only decline in the coming years. Technical advances will offset part of that population decline, but to win a war, that demands boots on the ground and boots require populations to fill them. That means that they will have to act fairly quickly, or forever give up their dreams of conquest.

    Counter that with Trump’s desire to rebuild the U.S. military, similar to what Reagan did in the 1980s. It took years of traitors—Papa Bush, Clinton, Baby Bush, Obama—to run down our military after Reagan to the point that many military analysts say that if both Russia and China together were to attack us today, our military will be roundly defeated. So if Trump succeeds in rebuilding our military, China and Russia both can’t wait for following traitors to allow the military to decay again.

    I also follow the Adapt 2030 site, which already documents declining crop yields world wide. That was even before the recent floods in the Midwest that destroyed millions of bushels of corn and soybeans. If the information in Adapt 2030 is correct, crop failures will only get worse in coming years, with their accompanying rises in food prices.

    Food prices are already rising in China, leading to social unrest. Social unrest can lead to rebellion. Rebellion can lead to regime change. Regime change can result in death to the old leaders. One way that leaders facing unrest deflect popular anger is to get involved with foreign wars.

    Adding all these factors together, nuclear war, starting possibly with an EMP, could come as soon as this summer, if not next summer. The Soviets, because they don’t believe in MAD, would be willing to start one. But I wouldn’t expect the war before July or August, when the fields in Europe would dry out enough to support tanks rolling out to defeat NATO. One note to preppers, many more people will survive a nuclear war than expect to, and they will be unprepared for survival.

    I hope I’m wrong. Tell me why this analysis is incorrect.

  9. We war gamed this scenario in the army in the seventies. The thought was that it would take four twenty megaton devices to cover the US. At that time only the US and Russia had that capability and a delivery system to deliver the device to the target. I still think we are the only two.

    Liabilities are timing and collateral damage. There has to be sufficient interval between detonations so subsequent nav packages aren’t harmed by the detonation in front of it. A simultaneous TOT ( time on target) is possible but timing is critical. Secondly is harm to satellites. Four detonations 60-90 minutes apart would get all satellites in orbit that would eliminate communication, reconnaissance, GPS, and any subsequent bombs in orbit for future targeting whether clean or dirty.

    Lower yield devices can work but more will be required to cover the whole country. For China or North Korea they would have to put them in orbit and have them re-enter for impact. They don’t have the range for a fractional orbit with that payload.

    Any country that does this will have to realize all after effects that will occur from collateral damage

    1. “all after effects”
      like massive power plant reactor meltdowns ?
      That radioactive kill cloud circulating the globe?
      Millions dead world wide, especially in targeted countries ?
      Millions of acres of farmland radioctive possibly for years to decades. ?
      US continental food production cut by 60 to 80% and world food production harmed ?
      damaged, killed satellites comm/gps ect ?
      Counter strikes on countries supporting initial strikes ?

      After effects, disease, lefties eating their own, mayhem.

      That’s what I could imagine in 5 seconds thinking about it,

    2. All of the following material is open source unclassified.

      Modern designs for EMP weapons are single stage fission devices of relatively low yield but very rapid rise in extremely high energy XRay production, a function of both higher purity fissionable material and greater precision in design of the chemical explosives made possible by modern computer technology. Higher energy higher Xray flux is associated with much faster and more thorough ionization of the upper atmosphere, and thus higher EMP-induced voltages. Not only do more modern designs induce higher peak voltages, but the shorter rise time means higher frequency EM radiation with greater ability to damage unshielded microelectronic components. Older fission-fusion-fission devices (H-bombs) are much higher yield but paradoxically they produce lower overall X-ray flux with lower peak voltages and lower frequencies.

      EMP is a function of X-ray production, in turn a function of nuclear fission, not fusion, and the first fission stage of a three stage device prevents the third stage from having its full effect. Older high altitude nuclear pumped EMPs produced pulses which induced peak voltages in the 20-40 kV/meter range; frequencies were relatively low, into the HF range (3-30 mHz).

      Newer devices are rumored to induce peak voltages in the 100 kV per meter range, with significant frequency spectrum into the VHF range. This is bad news for any unprotected electronic equipment because the shorter wavelengths get into electronic equipment more readily, are picked up more readily by the chips and components on the board, and deliver more energy. The problem is not going to be fried cell phones, the *problem* will be all of the computer controlled power grid systems that will be fried by the E1 pulse, and the transformers that will be fried by the E3 pulse.

      A Carrington Event would have effects similar to that of the E3 stage of a nuclear pumped HEMP pulse, but without the destruction of the control and protection equipment that the HEMP would carry.

      As regards delivery, a single device detonated over Nebraska could induce a significant EMP over all of the continental united States, and into Canada and Mexico. This device could be delivered by fractional orbit systems, or from an orbiting satellite. Like the two satellites North Korea presently have orbiting, on about a 90 minute orbital period, which brings them over the US about twice a day.

      Presently, the US, China, Russia, Great Britain, and France have the technology to deliver such a strike. India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel are suspected to have such capability, and there may be others.

      As regards the consequences of such a strike, there would be no direct deaths as the result of an EMP attack. However, ANY loss of the power grid for more than a month at the outside, apart from any other event, would result in a cascading societal failure that would kill over 90% of the people in these united States indirectly, many from hunger. There is only about 30-40 days worth of food in the US at any one time. Grid power runs the pipelines which deliver fuel to the transport systems (trucks and trains) which get food to the cities. Farms run on modern internal combustion engines; no fuel, no planting or harvesting. No grid, no food processing. No grid power, no water, no sewage treatment, and NO FOOD. >90 of the US population live in metropolitan areas which produce much less than 1% of the food. Having over 60 Fukushimas here in these united States would be relatively minor in comparison.

      There are several hundred transformers that serve the grid in the US. We make none of these; they are built overseas. An EMP attack would fry them, and it takes 3 years to get a new one made; they take several hundred tons of special steels and copper conductors. Overall production of these units is low; they last for decades under normal service conditions. There is about an 18 month lead time just to get a new one in the queue last I checked, then another 18 months to actually make it. There will be no quick recovery from such an attack.

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