David Grantham Testimony: Texas Grid and U.S. National Security

May 10, 2017

by Dr. David Grantham

Chairman Hancock and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit written comments about the importance of hardening our state's electric grid. I am David Grantham, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization dedicated to developing and promoting private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector.

America’s electric power grid is arguably the most vulnerable part of our nation’s infrastructure. Divided among three geographical regions, the U.S. network remains dangerously exposed to a host of potentially devastating natural disasters and foreign attacks. The May 2016 GAO report “Critical Infrastructure Protection: Federal Efforts to Address Electromagnetic Risks” does well to highlight the potential threats from an EMP and covers the actions already taken based on the recommendations of the 2008 EMP Commission, such as establishing industry standards and federal guidelines. However, the report’s remaining proposals are noticeably broad, which present difficulties for implementation on a national scale.

The Lone Star State finds itself in a unique position to act as the only state with its own, self-contained grid. More importantly, the United States depends on Texas for its national security and defense readiness.

The National Security Implications in Texas. Department of Defense personnel are spread among a multitude of career fields and stationed at 15 active-duty military installations across the state. Outside of the Northern Virginia/D.C. area, Texas has the second most active duty bases in the United States. And many of those facilities house mission-critical assets.

According to several government publications, the total number of active-duty defense department personnel stationed in the Lone Star State totals somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000. This range is based on 2013-2014 numbers, which have likely fluctuated with the newly expanded Charles R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood and the arrival of the 24th Air Force, Cyber Command at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB).

  • Nevertheless, based on the median of those estimates (125,000), Texas hosts just over11 percent of the military population currently stationed in the continental UnitedStates.
  • Add in civilians, reservists and National Guard members, and the total defense-related population in the state exceeds a quarter of a million people.
  • And thanks to Texas’ modern airfields, efficient road systems and extensive railtransportation capabilities, the Pentagon has been able to mobilize and deploy troopswith incredible speed and efficiency. In fact, since 2002, over 1 million military personnel have been sent from Texas in support of the United States’ most important international conflicts.

This tremendous defense presence also provides a boon to the state economy. Texas benefits from a roughly $150 billion economic impact. According to the Texas Military Preparedness Commission, the economic output of military installations –‒ including jobs created and taxes generated –‒ is second only to the manufacturing sector. The economic impact for defense-related work surpasses even the information technology sector — where Texas currently ranks second in the country, with over 485,000 cyber-related jobs.

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