Electromagnetic pulse attacks on the energy grid, a topic that used to prompt eye-rolling in Washington, is now a top concern for the U.S. Air Force.
Officials have raised new worries that "determined adversaries" want to attack the grid, either with a physical hit or a potential EMP attack.
Experts have suggested that North Korea, for example, is testing missiles to launch a nuclear weapon from a ship off the U.S. coast into the atmosphere where an explosion could shut off electricity for months through an atmospheric EMP explosion.
In an Air Force briefing provided to the Examiner, the service raised concerns about "aging infrastructure," a "growing number of cyberattacks" on the grid, "coordinated physical attacks on key grid components" and "risks from state and non-state actors," presumably such as the Islamic State or North Korea.
It also raised the issue of natural disasters smacking the unprotected grid, including a "pattern of increasingly extreme and unpredictable storms," and "catastrophic earthquakes."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org