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Arizona lawmakers prepare for the apocalypse

If a disaster of Armageddon-like proportions strikes Arizona, state lawmakers want residents to be prepared, and they want the government to dole out advice on the best way to be ready.

A Senate panel advanced SB1476, a bill that would require the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to develop and issue recommendations for how to survive if an electromagnetic pulse hits Arizona or the entire United States. The theory is that a nuclear blast over the United States could generate the pulse, quickly sending the country into a dark age.

Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, the bill’s sponsor, said he learned of the seriousness of the topic while reading a novel about a post-apocalyptic world brought to its knees by an electromagnetic pulse, also known as an EMP. Although the book was fictional, it included a letter from former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, written in 2005 while Kyl represented Arizona in Congress, declaring the country unready for the attack.

“This threat may sound straight out of Hollywood, but it is very real,” Kyl wrote then.

Some congressman are still pushing the issue in Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., heads the EMP caucus, which has been unsuccessfully pushing for passage of the SHIELD Act — the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure from Lethal Damage Act.

Farnsworth, R-Mesa, said that threat remains today, and because Congress has done little to address it, he at least wants Arizona to be at the ready for a threat that may be even greater now than when Kyl wrote about it nearly a decade ago.

“It’s interesting to see the pattern of disasters that have happened in the past, and it seems like each one that happens is larger than the last,” Farnsworth told the Arizona Capitol Times. “With the Twin Towers of course being the huge attack, and I would hope that nothing like this would ever occur. But as a state senator, I’ve got to ask myself what is my responsibility if I feel a great concern.”

Farnsworth likened his EMP legislation to another bill he has sponsored this session — an effort to allow Arizona residents to raise chickens and other fowl in their own backyards. It’s all a matter of individual preparedness and self-sufficiency.

In the event of an EMP attack, Farnsworth warns that the entire electrical grid could be down for days, if not weeks or months, cutting off Arizonans from food and water supplies. If such a disaster were more widespread, there won’t be anyone coming to save you, he warned.

“As a people, we have come to believe the government can fix anything, it seems,” he said. “That gives us a false sense of security.”

Farnsworth already practices what he’s preaching. The senator said he uses an old children’s playhouse in his backyard to store food and supplies, and has been doing so for 40 years. The senator keeps, among other things, powdered milk, beans and rice in storage, as well as wheat in No. 10 metal cans.

“They say they’ve found wheat in the tombs of Egypt that’s over a thousand years old but still edible,” Farnsworth said. “And I have wheat that’s over 30 years old but is still very edible.”

The practice of stockpiling is in line with Farnsworth’s religious beliefs — it’s a principle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have basic supplies ready for short-term and long-term hardships.

It’s a concept spawned by the Great Depression, Farnsworth said.

“Intelligent, thinking people will look at a certain circumstance and say, ‘We don’t ever want this to happen again. What can we do to prepare for the future?’” he said.

As approved unanimously by the Senate’s Public Safety Committee, the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs would be responsible for issuing and updating a preparedness list at least every five years.

The list would include the type and quantity of provisions needed, such as food, water and medical supplies, and would be posted on the agency’s website.

While casting their votes in favor of the proposal, some senators had their own ideas for ways to prepare for the apocalypse. Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, wondered if there were enough guidelines for how vital services such as water, electricity and public safety would be restored in the event of such a long disaster. And Sen. Al Melvin, R-SaddleBrooke, worried that communication networks would be needed to help keep order.

“Has anyone ever talked about the role that ham [radio] operators can play when everything else goes to hell in a hand basket?” Melvin said in committee.

Farnsworth said he hopes that the bill will at least raise awareness and encourage some to take steps to prepare, even as simple as purchasing a few extra canned goods during their next trip to the grocery store.

“It’s unlikely that people will do what they need to do, but at some point they’ll wish they had,” said Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma.

5 comments

  1. The politicians create fear among the people in order to gain more control and $$$’s. The Arizona politicians are uneducated in science and refuse to believe in it. These are the last people who should be creating more big government and poorly written law and / policies. Who drives public policy in Arizona? The private prison profiteers.

    This should be in the hands of the federal government that impacts the nation and the common good.

    Mr. Farnsworth, We’ve read a novel also — Orwell’s 1984. The public deserves facts and less chaos baiting.

  2. Mr. Farnsworth, Please, less gasoline on fear baiting, which is also what the terrorists use to keep the people in a constant state of fear. Work on reforming Arizona’s draconian mandatory minimum sentencing and its outdated and broken criminal justice system.

  3. I think this is a smart move. All they are trying to do here is put a little educational material into the hands of the general population. Why wouldn’t we want the state to have an emergency plan in place? They aren’t forcing anyone to do anything so what’s the big deal?

    This is a smart move.

  4. The big deal is resources needed for education health care etc.. Time from the agencies wasted on a theoretical fictional book instead of working on contingency’s for real world problems. So far the only man made EMP device capable of the destruction these fear mongers are going on about is a nuclear bomb if that goes off we have bigger problems than no electricity for a few weeks.

  5. Senator Farnsworth’s acknowledgement of EMP is spot on. He acknowledges himself this bill is the first small step in beginning to educate the public.

    While everyone seems to exploit the issue that an EMP will come from a nuclear bomb, the reality is far greater that it will be caused by a Coronal Mass Ejection (aka “solar flare”) from our own sun. NASA has place satellites near the sun so our country’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Solar Weather group can track and identify potential CMEs that may pose a threat to earth. Approximately 24 CMEs strike the earth each year and cause havoc with communication satellites (like the ones that provide GPS signals to earth), accelerate the corrosion of our countries buried natural gas and oil pipelines and routinely destroy computer circuits, memory and hard-drives. However, most people don’t track the NOAA alerts or relate their computer going belly may have been caused by a recent solar flare. The government does however and our Department of Homeland Security issues warning almost weekly when NASA’s satellites detect a potential problem coming from the sun.

    Everyone of our nation’s enemies knows the potential devastation an EMP bomb can cause the United States if they can deploy it. However, most people in the united states have no idea what an EMP bomb is, how it works, or the fact that it can instantly return us to a non-electrified country in literally one billionth of a second (yes – 1,000,000,000th of a second). If such an event occurs, virtually all electronic devices in the US are destroyed. There is no fixing them, they won’t come back on their own and every single device must be replaced. If that does occur, there will be no replacement parts, no phones, no internet (means to order them), no electricity and no place to manufacture them. Virtually every citizen in Israel knows the devastation an EMP could cause to their country and lives if placed in the hands of a rogue nation.

    Solar or nuclear caused EMP is not something the “preppers” made up. Our understanding of it began when we dropped the 1st nuclear bomb in World Word II. Many other States are already pass far more extensive legislation. The way I see it, Senator Farnsworth’s bill is like the operating instruction label on a fire extinguisher – it is something you read and understand before the fire.

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