As I noted in an earlier blog post Rep. Franks (R,AZ) introduced HR 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA), which would require DHS to consider electromagnetic pulse (EMP) incidents in its critical infrastructure emergency planning process.
Section 2(a) of the bill would amend the Homeland Security Act by adding a definition of EMP to 6 USC §101, adding a new section to Title V requiring the Secretary to include EMP incidents in national planning scenarios, and adding a new section to Title III that would require DHS S&T to conduct research on mitigating the effects of EMP events.
The definition would specifically include natural and manmade EMP events. Given the fact that a large scale EMP event (natural or a deliberate attack) would be as devastating to a modern technological society as a full scale nuclear attack (I know, no direct physical destruction, but the simultaneous termination of EVERY ELECTRONIC DEVICE within range of the event would have immediate and long term catastrophic consequences) I suppose that DHS ought to be looking at this. It should rank right up there with planning for a post-nuclear holocaust or the explosion of the Yellowstone super-volcano dome.
Responding to the use of a smaller scale EMP device directed at critical infrastructure, is of course a slightly different situation. Still the technical sophistication required to make an effective weapon based upon this technology probably makes the use of such a weapon by terrorists slightly less likely than their employment of a nuclear weapon.
I suppose that a rational consideration of the extent of the threat explains the lack of authorization of new spending to support the research requirements of this bill.
Since this bill does not actually require anyone to do anything other than come up with yet another bureaucratic plan, this plan would not face significant opposition if it made it to the floor of the House. I would be surprised, however, if this bill made it out of committee due to lack of consideration rather than any actual opposition.