The SHIELD Act*
(Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act)
The summary below was written by Congressman Trent Franks.
Why We Need it:
In 2008, the bipartisan Electromagnetic Pulse Commission testified before Congress that: Contemporary U.S. society is not structured, nor does it have the means, to provide for the needs of nearly 300 million Americans without electricity;
- The current strategy for recovery from a failure of the electric grid leaves us ill-prepared to respond effectively to a manmade or naturally occurring EMP event that would potentially result in damage to vast numbers of components nearly simultaneously over an unprecedented geographic scale;
- Should the electrical power system be lost for any substantial period of time the consequences are likely to be catastrophic to society, including potential casualties in excess of 60% of the population, according to the Chairman of the EMP Commission;
- Negative impacts on the electric infrastructure are potentially catastrophic in an EMP event unless practical steps are taken to provide protection for critical elements of the electric system; Finally, most experts predict the occurrence of severe geomagnetic storms is inevitable, it is only a matter of when.
What it Does:
- The SHIELD Act, which amends section 215 of the Federal Power Act, encourages cooperation between industry and government in the development, promulgation, and implementation of standards and processes that are necessary to address the current shortcomings and vulnerabilities of the electric grid from a major EMP event;
- The SHIELD Act incorporates most of the EMP-related language of HR 5026 from the 111th Congress, which passed overwhelmingly through the House, but was stalled in the Senate during the Lame Duck due mostly to additional language regarding cyber-security threats.
- However, the SHIELD Act omits language regarding cyber-security threats, (which can be better addressed in a separate bill), and then goes beyond HR 5026 by further requiring an automated protection plan and hardware-based solutions, without which the legislation would be toothless to truly address EMP threats.
- The SHIELD Act also requires that standards be developed within 6 months, as opposed to 1 year, of enactment, ensuring a faster timeline of protection.
* Note: In the Senate, there is another “SHIELD Act” that is quite different from H.R. 668. The Senate’s “SHIELD Act” (S.4004) “Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination” Act amends the federal criminal code to expand the prohibition against disclosure of classified information. The Senate’s “SHIELD Act” does not address the electric infrastructure or electromagnetic pulse (EMP).