Executive Order on Electromagnetic Pulses Designed to Help Critical Infrastructure
Friday, April 12, 2019 | Comments

President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring the federal government to address resiliency to the effects of electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), which can potentially disrupt, degrade and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems.

An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy. EMPs have the potential to negatively affect technology systems on Earth and in space. A high-altitude EMP (HEMP) is a type of human-made EMP that occurs when a nuclear device is detonated at about 40 kilometers or more above the surface of Earth. A geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) is a type of natural EMP driven by a temporary disturbance of Earth’s magnetic field resulting from interactions with solar eruptions. Both HEMPs and GMDs can affect large geographic areas, the order said.

The order said the federal government must provide warning of an impending EMP; protect against, respond to, and recover from the effects of an EMP through public and private engagement, planning, and investment; and prevent adversarial events through deterrence, defense and nuclear nonproliferation efforts. To achieve these goals, the government shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and for adversarial threats, consult intelligence community assessments.

The order promotes collaboration and facilitates information sharing, including sharing threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies, the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders. The government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations and appropriate guidance.

The full order with directions for various offices and agencies and the coordination process is available here.

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