President Biden says he is ready to negotiate on what "infrastructure" is included in his "American Jobs Plan," submitted on March 31 to the House and quickly passed to the Senate where it is being considered in his three-way negotiations with the evenly divided congress—at least 51 Senate votes will rule the day. Vice President Harris’ vote will break a tie for the Democrats—or Republicans need at least one Democrat to join them.
While the electric power grid is included in the president’s plan, it has been relegated to a minor little funded role—in my opinion, this is a gross error.
The plan calls for roads and bridges, thought of as classical infrastructure, to receive only about five percent of the President’s $2.3-trillion proposal. Moreover, most of the plan made public deals with items not previously considered as "infrastructure."
Senator Barrosso,R-Wy.,ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has referred to many components of this $2.3 trillion"infrastructure" proposal as "Solyndra on steroids." In my opinion, Sen. Barrosso's description is a fair assessment of the collection of components generally associated with "Climate Change” and the “Green New Deal."
And given this Biden administration interest, we do not want to see a repeat of the Solyndra debacle of the early Obama years— and certainly not one that is orders-of-magnitude more expensive to the taxpayers, as could be the case today.
The plan should stick to common sense infrastructure, which should receive bipartisan support. For example, Sen. Barrosso has noted his support for "broadband."
And broadband support across the nation will be important in the future—but it, like so much of the nation’s vital infrastructure, won’t be viable without the electric power grid. This common-sense reality also should be kept in mind when considering innovative ideas that depend on electricity—e.g., electric automobiles and their access to electricity along the highways of the nation. A viable electric grid is essential to such innovations.
Others have supported funding major improvements to the electric power grid as infrastructure, though with far less emphasis than is due, especially as compared to much greater funding proposed to support components that depend on electricity.
For example, see Newsmax’s April 14 report that the White House is rushing to complete a 100-day study of what must be done to protect the electric grid from cyberattack.
This is a step in the right direction, especially if this study includes the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats the Congressional EMP Commission reported many years ago to be most horrific cyber threat posed by the military doctrine of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran—since ignored by all subsequent administrations.
Moreover, there is little need for more study to deal with the existential EMP threat, since the EMP Commission long ago discussed it in detail and recommended what should be done to protect the nation’s electric power grid. Numerous EMP Commission reports are readily available on line.
Rep. Yvette Clark, D-N.Y., who chairs the Cyber Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee, clearly supports President Biden’s infrastructure initiative to protect the electric grid from cyber threats as made clear in a Cybersecurity Coalition event, as reported by Tonya Riley in the April 8, 2021 Washington Post.
She made clear that Rep. Clark supports including major funding for state and local authorities to address the cyber threat to the electric power grid—a most welcome "bottom-up" approach that parallels our South Carolina efforts.
It should be only a small extension to make sure that the existential EMP threat is included in Rep. Clark’s plan, especially since she also co-chairs the Congressional EMP Caucus and is fully aware of the existential EMP threat. Hopefully, she will take initiatives to assure the resiliency of the electric grid to all threats.
As my fellow Reaganite, Chris Lehman, wrote in the April 4, 2021 Washington Times, urgently addressing the vulnerability of the electric power grid reflects meeting Benjamin Franklin’s adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Actually, losing the currently vulnerable electric power grid for an extended period would lead to the loss of life of most Americans due to starvation, disease and societal collapse. And as Chris explained, that currently could occur from existing manmade and natural EMP threats.
Thus, the "ounce of prevention" is essential, but there is no pound of cure—and the alternative is "uncurable." That makes even more potent his question: "If not now, then when" will we protect the grid?
Indeed, addressing the all too real vulnerabilities of the electric power grid deserves the highest priority.