TONIGHT: Will President Biden’s State of the Union address catastrophic grid vulnerability?

March 1, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joe Biden’s State of the Union address tonight will likely feature promises of more federal spending aimed at building out America’s electric infrastructure to support an endless pursuit of “electrification” of U.S. transportation infrastructure—a goal to which his administration, along with Congress, has dedicated hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

A shocking “60 Minutes” segment aired on Sunday proves that these dreams of “electrification” can be quickly dashed by any of our adversaries or Mother Nature because of the catastrophic vulnerability of the single infrastructure upon which it all depends—the U.S. electric grid. The report revealed that the grid has been subjected to more than 700 acts of sabotage over the last decade and that an adversary targeting just 9 electric substations could take out the entire grid for months or years—spelling economic and societal catastrophe for the American people. The show also revealed that there is literally no enforceable standard established by government to defend against simultaneous physical attacks on multiple substations. And, our enemies know this.

Worse yet, the White House Homeland Security Advisor, Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall, flatly admitted: “In my view as the government, we can’t impose the regulations you’re suggesting.”

This reality should prompt President Biden to include in his remarks four concrete and immediate actions to address what is arguably the most important public policy issue of all: the danger that our electric grid is vulnerable to potentially catastrophic take-down.

The President must: (1) make protecting the grid against all hazards a top priority; (2) create a “czar” responsible for performing it; (3) secure legislation requiring electric utilities to do their part; and (4) prevent them from utilizing likely compromised equipment from China and other hostile powers.

The Secure the Grid Coalition and the Center for Security Policy (centerforsecuritypolicy.org ,Center) commend CBS News program 60 Minutes for investigating and reporting on the threats to the electric grid. The Coalition calls upon President Biden to take action to secure the grid now, before it sustains devastating attack, endangering tens of millions of Americans.  

 “The U.S. government has been concerned about the cybersecurity of the critical electric infrastructure since at least 2003; the security of the electric grid from physical threats since at least 1981; geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) threats since at least 1990; and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats since at least 1972. Moreover, we continue to see the impacts of extreme weather on our critical electric infrastructure every year. In other words, we have been talking about securing our critical electric infrastructure for over four decades from the very threats we still face today. Bill Whitaker and the 60 Minutes Team brought much needed attention to the threats to the electric grid and should be commended,” said Command Sergeant Major Michael Mabee, U.S. Army (Ret.), a leader in the Secure the Grid Coalition and key participant in the “60 Minutes” segment.

“The recent 60 Minutes report to the American public was a catalyst for citizens to hold the government and the electric utility industry accountable to protect our electric grid. The question is whether or not Presiden Biden and his administration will now do what is needed. We are running out of time, Mr. President: secure the grid now!” said Frank Gaffney, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Center for Security Policy and co-founder of the Secure the Grid Coalition.

“People need to contact their elected officials, point to this 60 Minutes report and ask: ‘What are you doing to protect us?’ Unfortunately, for far too long, the answers have been a series of empty promises. We literally cannot afford to have that continue to be the case.” said Tommy Waller, Director of Infrastructure Security for the Center for Security Policy and member of the Secure the Grid Coalition.

The Secure the Grid Coalition is an informal team of world-class public policy, energy and national security practitioners, legislators and industry insiders that is dedicated to strengthening the resilience of America’s electrical grid and sponsored by the Center for Security Policy. The Coalition aims to raise awareness about foreign and domestic threats to our most critical of critical infrastructures and to stimulate action to defeat them and protect virtually every one of the American people whose lives literally depend on the grid.

Since the Center for Security Policy’s founding in 1988, it has challenged establishment orthodoxy and refused to sacrifice principles for expedience. The Center’s work is rooted in the proven strategy of Peace Through Strength and a recognition that our security and freedom the world over depends critically on a strong and resilient America.

The Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization that educates policymakers, legislators, the media, and the American public. We are funded by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations. For more information, visit the Center website at centerforsecuritypolicy.org.   
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