H.R. 668: Secure High-Voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act
Introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-2nd, AZ) on February 11, 2011, this bill seeks to protect the power grid and electric infrastructure from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats. EMP occurs both naturally by geomagnetic storms, and via manmade devices, such as by detonation of a nuclear weapon. The pulse of magnetic energy adversely affects a wide range of electronic devices, ranging from cell phones and personal computers to power grids, satellites and air traffic control systems. The Congressional EMP Commission and the National Academy of Sciences characterize electromagnetic pulse as a potentially catastrophic threat. Similar to last year’s proposed Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act (GRID Act), the SHIELD Act would:
- Authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), upon identification of an imminent EMP threat, to issue orders for emergency measures to protect the reliability of the bulk-power system and/or defense critical electric infrastructure;
- Authorize FERC to provide for cost recovery of “substantial costs” incurred in compliance with such emergency orders;
- Authorize FERC to issue temporary rules to protect against grid security vulnerabilities to EMPs where existing standards do not provide for sufficient protection; FERC’s orders would be rescinded upon approval of a sufficient standard;
- Require North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to propose, within one year, reliability standards addressing “reasonably foreseeable” EMPs, based upon FERC’s specification of the “nature and magnitude” of such threats; such standards would be required to balance risks and mitigation costs;
- Require NERC to propose, within two years, reliability standards addressing capabilities of restoring operations after an EMP event; such standards would be required to balance risks and costs and would require entities that own or operate large transformers to ensure adequate availability in the event they are destroyed or disabled by an EMP attack; and
- Require the President to identify up to 100 critical defense facilities that would be subject to FERC rules prescribing measures to take to protect against malicious EMPs, subject to the owners of the facilities agreeing to incur the costs necessary to comply with FERC orders.
Status: H.R. 668 has been referred to the House Committees on Energy & Commerce and Budget.