SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Amid renewed fears of Russian nuclear aggression, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation adding electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks to the grounds under which he could declare a state of emergency.

An EMP, which can be caused by an attack with nuclear weapons, particularly at high altitudes, “could damage significant portions of the nation’s infrastructure, including the electrical grid, communications equipment, water and wastewater systems, and even cars,” a press release from the office of Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, states.

An EMP can also be produced artificially from an electromagnetic bomb, or can be a natural phenomena such as when the sun sends out a particularly large amount of plasma.

“Such an attack could be part of a nuclear strike, and Russia remains the United States’ largest and most capable rival, according to the 2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community,” the press release states. “The government says Russia is expanding and modernizing the capabilities of its weapons of mass destruction, which could penetrate U.S. missile defenses.”

Dodd stated he decided to introduce the legislation “given rising geopolitical tensions and growing threats across the globe.” Relations between the United States and Russia have reached a low not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War, following the latter’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is now a sovereign U.S. ally.

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“Evolving technology coupled with aggression we’re seeing from nations such as Russia mean we must be prepared for any possibility,” Sen. Dodd stated. “An attack could devastate electronic devices and power sources across the state, so the ability to respond quickly would be essential. I thank the governor and my legislative colleagues for adding this tool to the toolbox.”