By: Tommy Waller – centerforsecuritypolicy.org – May 11, 2017
This week, the state legislature of Texas took monumental steps to secure its own part of the U.S. electric grid known officially as the Texas Interconnection.
On May 9th, the Texas Senate passed SB83 by a 28-3 vote. Authored by Texas State Senator Bob Hall, SB83 addresses the Texas electric grid’s vulnerability to electromagnetic pulse, extreme space weather, physical, and cyber-attack threats.
On May 10th, the Texas House unanimously passed Rep. Tan Parker’s HB787, which is a similar, but separate grid security bill that creates a grid advisory committee to study the Texas electric grid and its vulnerability to electromagnetic pulse and cybersecurity threats.
The Secure the Grid Coalition, sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, has been working for several years with legislators like Sen. Hall and Rep. Parker, and with executive branch officials and emergency managers across the country on this literally life-and-death issue. After all, any protracted and widespread disruption of the grid would also trigger the failure of every one of the affected areas’ other critical infrastructure. Specifically, severe disruptions would occur with potentially catastrophic consequences in such sectors as: energy and power; communications; food and agriculture; transportation; medical services; and water and sewage systems.
For these reasons, the Coalition applauds the important legislative progress being made in the Lone Star state to protect Texans against such eventualities. It urges that the steps needed to conform the two bills and secure Governor Gregg Abbott’s endorsement on the final version be taken at once.
Upon learning of the extraordinary consensus that has emerged in Austin concerning the imperative of achieving all-hazard protection for the Texas grid, Center for Security Policy president Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., said,
Texans – and every other American – should be immensely grateful for the leadership exhibited by Senator Bob Hall and Representative Tan Parker to initiate the process of securing their state’s portion of the U.S. electric grid. With threats to what amounts to American society’s central nervous system growing every day, especially from nuclear-capable North Korea and its allies, this action could not be more timely. We call on leaders in other states to regard the progress being made by Senator Hall and Rep. Parker as both a challenge and a model to achieve the protection of their part of the grid, as well.
Upon his chamber’s passage of SB83, Senator Hall stated, “I am thankful to have had the support of the Secure the Grid Coalition in helping educate Texans on the importance of grid resiliency. I intend to continue driving forward to protect the Texas grid, and I take confidence in knowing that the Coalition will continue its work, resulting in similar outcomes all across our great nation.”
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