A new federal audit is raising significant questions about how the government would respond if the electric grid of 24,000 substations and 430,000 miles of transmission cable is disabled by a nuclear attack or solar flare.
The Government Accountability Office, in an audit started in 2014, found that despite congressional and industry concerns of a grid melt down caused by an electromagnetic pulse hit from a nuclear attack or a geomagnetic disturbance from a solar flare like the near hit earth in July 2012, nobody has been put in charge of responding in a disaster.
While the government is aware of the issue, the GAO said, "industry representatives and other federal officials told us it is not clear who within Department of Homeland Security is responsible for addressing electromagnetic risks."
Just as importantly, GAO said that the government hasn't determined which electric assets are the most important to protect or restore after an attack.
"We found that DHS and Department of Energy had not taken actions to identify key electrical infrastructure assets," said GAO in its report and in congressional testimony delivered this week.
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