Murkowski: Threat Posed By EMP Attack a Matter of National Defense

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today convened a hearing of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to examine the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and policy options to protect energy infrastructure.

During her opening statement, Murkowski spoke to the importance of the issue, indicating it to be even more salient today for several reasons, including the continued proliferation of nuclear technology and society’s increasing reliance on electronics.

“The United States has recognized a potential EMP attack as a national security threat for decades, and our efforts to understand a potential EMP burst are not new,” Murkowski said. “However, today there is a renewed focus on understanding the effects of such an attack, and an increase in efforts directed at mitigating and recovering from such an event should it occur.”

Murkowski noted that the federal government and utilities must work together to improve the nation’s ability to respond to EMP and other potential high impact low frequency events. 

“As the owners and operators of critical energy assets, our utilities must assist government EMP experts in understanding how the electric grid works,” Murkowski said. “For its part, government must prudently share its knowledge and expertise [on EMPs] with industry on a timely basis and approve or direct prudent reliability standards as warranted. Both camps must work together to share information and expertise.”

Finally, Murkowski asked the witnesses whether they believed an EMP attack ought to be considered a threat to national defense, and the panel unanimously agreed.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

Related Issues: Energy