Turning Off The Lights: A Inside Look Into United States Grid Security.


On Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015, the Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellows kicked off their series of panels on domestic and international energy policy. For a standing-room-only audience in Joseph Theatre, Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellows Bethany Foxx  and Sarah Roessler welcomed Gettysburg College students, faculty, and community members to a panel discussion on the intersections of national security and energy policy.

Experts included Dan Dalton, Deputy Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Nuclear Threat Science within the NNSA Office of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation; Kyle Simpson, a senior advisor focusing on energy legislation and regulatory policy at Hogan Lovells; Lewis Steinhoff, Director of Planning for the Office of Strategic Planning and Programming for the NNSA; and Robert Zitz, senior vice president and chief systems architect for national security at Leidos.

The lecture, titled “Blackout: Terrorists Turning Out the Lights on America,” focused on the evolution of energy policy from a national security perspective. “One of the biggest challenges today is understanding how important energy security is to the United States and to our partners and allies,” said Dan Dalton of the NNSA. “It really is something that we should all be highly concerned about. We should be focused on it in terms of how we vote. We should think about energy in terms of national security policy, it’s not just about oil and filling up the gas in your car, it’s actually much bigger than that.”

The relationship between energy and national security policy is often defined by counterterrorism strategies. The panelists discussed the evolution of energy security after 9/11 and the ways in which various agencies work together for counterterrorism purposes. “When we talk about energy security, that’s a very broad topic, said NNSA Director of Planning Lewis Steinhoff. “We’re talking about things that relate to terrorism, and what terrorists could possibly do to the energy grid.”

During the question-and-answer portion of the panel, experts explored possible solutions that could prevent terrorist attacks on energy resources in the future. “I was surprised to learn about the potential severity of terrorists gaining access to the power grid,” said Sarah Roessler, “And about how closely national security and energy are linked.” Bethany Foxx added: “It was great to have panelists that came from a variety of professional backgrounds, which made for an exciting overall discussion with diverse perspectives.”

Reporting was contributed by Audrey Bowler, a Senior at Gettysburg College, and the Lead Journalist on the Eisenhower Institutes Campus Communications Team.