Home » Countdown To Chaos: Could An EMP Attack Cripple The US Power Grid?

Countdown To Chaos: Could An EMP Attack Cripple The US Power Grid?

by Richard A Reagan

An attack on the US could be coming. If the Biden administration propels us any deeper into war with Russia — and weakening our resolve against China — then an attack on our soil could happen at any moment.

Maybe you’re picturing something like Red Dawn, where Russian or Chinese troops parachute in, launching a massive invasion across North America. 

Sure, that could happen.

But what’s even more likely – and rarely talked about – would be an assault on our electrical grid. It would likely come in the form of a cyberattack or EMP. An EMP is a short burst of electromagnetic energy that knocks out electronics.

A small-scale attack could result in power outages, potentially leaving homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure without electricity…

Disruption of essential services, such as hospitals, water treatment plants, transportation systems, and communication networks, which could lead to potential safety hazards and hinder emergency response efforts…

Social disorder, including increased crime rates, civil unrest, and public health risks due to the lack of functioning infrastructure…

Or worse. And that’s just a small-scale attack. But what if it were a NATIONAL attack?

If this scenario seems far-fetched, consider that we’ve already seen an alarming number of attacks on our power grid in recent years. 

In 2022, there were 107 attacks at power substations around the country in the first 8 months alone, with a total of 167 for the year. 

Since 2013, we’ve seen an increasing number of attacks year.

On Christmas Day of last year, 4 electrical power substations were attacked in Western Washington, totaling 3 million in damages and leaving thousands of people with no electricity.  Earlier that month, there was also an attack in Moore County North Carolina, near Fayetteville, that left some 40,000 people without power.

According to FOX News, the Washington attackers wanted to knock out the power in their area to rob a local business. 

Given the ease with which a handful of sloppy, two-bit criminals sabotaged multiple power stations, how hard could it be for a disciplined terrorist group, cyber attacker, or hostile foreign actor to attack our grid?

Add to this the outdated infrastructure and the dangers posed to our infrastructure become more evident by the day.

But what would a large-scale attack from an outside threat, possibly look like? it could knock out our power for months, or even years. This would affect just about everything you use on a daily basis. Even most newer cars wouldn’t be able to run. The result would likely be suffering and death on a mass scale, unlike anything Americans have ever seen.

If you have a physical attack that damages equipment, it can take weeks, months or years to replace that equipment,” says Michael Mabee, a former U.S. Army command sergeant major and an expert in power infrastructure vulnerabilities. “If enough of these transformers were destroyed in a physical attack, we would have a long-term, wide-scale blackout, and the deaths would be in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions“.

The most ominous large-scale threat, of course, would be an EMP attack (Russia and China are two of the seven or eight countries with EMP capabilities). Such an attack would affect the country’s entire grid, not only a local power substation. 

Yet, there’s very little talk in DC about doing anything to shield ourselves from this sort of attack.

However, one Republican lawmaker in North Carolina, Ben Moss, has begun drafting legislation that would provide some safety measures, like 24 hour security.

Moss is urging fellow lawmakers to prioritize new legislation that would secure the state’s critical infrastructure when the legislative session begins in earnest this week. He’s among the first state legislators to propose power grid protections this year amid a surge of attacks on U.S. substations, primarily in the Carolinas and Pacific Northwest.

The legislation has caught the attention of other lawmakers, especially in South Carolina. Moss admits that more steps are needed but hopes that this will be a conversation-starter.

While it’s certainly better than nothing, it’s also not enough to stave off a high-level attack or an internal cyber attack.

In fact, according to several sources, Russians have already hacked into the US power grid, going so far as to hack into control rooms of various electric utility companies.   

Hackers taking down the U.S. electricity grid may sound like a plot ripped from a Bruce Willis action movie, but the Department of Homeland Security has recently disclosed new details about the extent to which Russia has infiltrated “critical infrastructure” like American power plants, water facilities and gas pipelines.

Unfortunately, at some point, this is a likely scenario. 

A scenario that, like our government, the general public is woefully unprepared for. In fact, according to backup power provider Generac Holdings, only 0.57% of homes in the country worth at least $150,000 had put in backup generators 20 years ago. Now, that figure is 5.75%.

Granted, that’s a slight improvement. But that number is nowhere near what it should be.

And given the fact that the Biden administration is not only doing nothing but actively working against this country’s security interests, that in itself poses a huge problem.

If you thought the border situation was bad under this regime, this could be even worse.

Not only have they ignored Russia’s hacking of our energy grid… but they’ve actually made it easier for China to do so as well by allowing them to import equipment for use in our electrical infrastructure.

Secret “back doors” in transformers and generators imported from such adversaries as China and Russia could enable those countries to shut down the entire national electric grid, throwing the entire country into chaos.

The Trump administration acknowledged the threat by issuing an executive order that declared a national emergency regarding the country’s power grid and banning any “bulk-power system electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied, by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary.

But it’s not just Russia and China. The order also extended to Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea, which it also identified as adversaries.

Not surprisingly, the current administration has seen fit to halt the order.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials had seized a Chinese-built transformer they suspected had secret capabilities that could allow distant adversaries to monitor or even disable it. Cybersecurity expert Joseph Weiss told the Journal that officials had found “electronics that should not have been part of the transformer (i.e., hardware back doors) that could secretly allow the Chinese to gain effective control of the transformers.” 

The thing is, there’s no way to entirely secure the power grid. But one thing we CAN do is make it more difficult for homegrown actors and foreign threats to gain access, whether physically, through hacking or with an EMP attack.

Unfortunately, it looks like our current politicians, including the White House, don’t seem to feel that protecting the grid is a priority. And you probably shouldn’t expect them to any time soon.
Instead, the threat will likely worsen as the power grid continues to age and our enemies become more emboldened. 

There are plenty of things you can do… like having water and emergency food stores on hand. But one thing most people don’t think about is the importance of having something with trading value, especially if you have to leave the country. So, if you’re concerned about the threat of an EMP, it might be a good idea to have gold on-hand. 

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