The Pentagon has decided to reopen the Cheyenne Mountain Air Defense facility, which housed the heart of America’s air and missile defense of North America. The facility had been mothballed in a “cost-saving” move in 2006.
Last week, Admiral William Gortney, head of US NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and US Northern Command, reversed that decision and announced the Pentagon was spending an opening ante of $700 million to oversee reactivation of the Cheyenne mountain-embedded facility. The reason – the Pentagon’s fears of a nuclear Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack by a missile that would burn out America’s overly-dependent defense, which is based on modern electronics.
The article doesn’t say what has changed since 2006. After all, the danger of EMP has been recognized within the military for decades. I see four possibilities. One is the increased likelihood of attack by North Korea, Iran, and other unstable third world powers. Another is the proliferation of super-EMP weapon technology to North Korea and possibly to other such powers. Another is the growing susceptibility of modern military electronics to EMP. Another is a realization by the military of its dependence on the civilian infrastructure.
Ensuring the ability of the US to retaliate is important in forestalling attacks by rational leaders of such countries as China and Russia. It is less effective in deterring aggression by unstable dictators, unidentifiable terrorists, and Arabs with a death wish.
A typical service station can store 20,000 gallons of liquid transportation fuel. This fuel source would become critically important during an extended emergency (an extended emergency is one which is both widespread and prolonged).
During an extended emergency, failure of the electrical grid would make it hard to pump out this fuel. Civil disorder would make it dangerous to travel and use fuel in any case. Lack of food would quickly reduce the population. For these three reasons, this resource is likely to remain relatively untapped and intact during the emergency. This means it will be available for farming, transportation, and small-scale power generation to those who survive the initial dieback.
One challenge often mentioned with regard to liquid fuels is degradation over time. Gasoline these days contains alcohol, which absorbs water from the air. Air in tanks also allows slow oxidation of the fuel. The products of oxidation and biological activity (due to water) can plug up engines. Yet these problems are not intractable. These fuels have survived as part of petroleum for millions of years, simply by being kept sealed away from air. Diesel fuel and gasoline sealed in drums should last a long time. Oxidation products can largely be filtered out, or even removed by distillation if necessary.
What is needed to tap this resource is a simple automotive fuel pump connected to a hose which can be dropped down into service station tanks. It can be powered by a car battery or small generator, or simply the power system of the vehicle that will be transporting the fuel. A fuel filter can be included to ensure the fuel drawn out is clean.
The best plan would be to store your own fuel to meet your needs during the first few months of an extended emergency, and tap service station tanks later on when it is safer to go out. You are unlikely to need much fuel during this initial period, since running generators, cars, and farm equipment might draw unwelcome attention.