Center for Strategic Communication

On April 7th much of the District of Columbia lost power. Traffic lights stopped working, metro stations went dark, and even key government buildings—including the White House and the State Department—suffered power failure. While the power outage was determined to be caused by a “small fire and explosion” at an electrical substation in Maryland, the incident serves to highlight the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure in even its capital.

power lines usgs

Power lines in California, courtesy of USGS.

Speaking more on this was ASP’s Director of Strategy and Communication, Paul Hamill, as he was invited to a televised interview by FOX. “To be strong abroad, we need to be strong at home.” Said Hamill, quoting President Eisenhower, and succinctly explaining the situation. Hamill went on to explain the importance of our infrastructure and how a weakened infrastructure makes us vulnerable.

“[The incident] is a really good example of how critical certain nodes in our infrastructure are. So we’ve got organizations like NERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, who are looking into how we create reliability in the electrical network, but it also shows that there are key problems that we still haven’t been able to overcome.”

Hamill highlighted the fragility of our infrastructure, and how problematic it is that such vulnerabilities exist in our infrastructure.

“It demonstrates that our infrastructure is failing us all around the country, and especially in the region. If we’ve got the White House, the State Department, and even Congress going dark, it’s really concerning.”

Perhaps most importantly though, Hamill emphasized that our infrastructure is critically important, but we have neglected it. “It’s not just our electrical system. It’s our roads, our bridges, our railways. All of them have failed us,” he explained. When asked on his confidence in the capacity of D.C.’s ability to deal with a major crisis or attack, Hamill stated that he had “no confidence at all.”

These statements further serve to emphasize ASP’s position that a strong infrastructure is the backbone of a strong nation, and that if we seek to truly be competitive globally then we need to resolve the problems at home which plague us. This latest incident in the heart of our nation only serves to cast into relief the message that ASP has promoting: the U.S. needs to address its infrastructure problems.


The video of the Paul Hamill’s interview below.




Further reading on infrastructure by ASP:

FACT SHEET—America’s Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities

Taking Action on Infrastructure

Infrastructure Investment Greatly Needed for Competitiveness and Security

Vulnerability of Energy Infrastructure to Hurricane Sandy

Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP): Infrastructure Resilience is Key


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