Tag Archives: ENRON

Oil Companies Taking America for a Ride!

We in Washington State like to think we are pretty smart. So do most Americans. Then why is it that most Americans can’t see that the oil companies consider us suckers?

Maybe it’s because most people can’t see the simple relationship between cause and effect. Record gas prices. Record oil company profits. In a free market economy, oil companies are free to charge whatever they want. And that is what they are doing.

What the oil companies are doing is reminiscent of what ENRON did in raising the price of electricity, causing millions of homeowners and businesses to pay more for the same amount of electricity. Was there an energy crisis? Yes and no. The market was manipulated and artificial shortages were created. An illusion of energy shortages was created.

The average consumer had little recourse but to pay higher electricity bills because they were locked into an electrical grid to meet their basic needs. Electricity is basically a monopoly because you can’t go out in most cases and shop for an electric company like you now can for a cell phone company. And any semblance of consumer protection is more a mirage than reality.

As Consortiumnews.org notes

Bush personally joined the fight against imposing caps on the soaring price of electricity in California at a time when Enron was artificially driving up the price of electricity by manipulating supply. Bush”s resistance to price caps bought Enron extra time to gouge hundreds of millions of dollars from California”s consumers.”

The same thing is happening now regarding gas prices with the Republicans in Congress and Bush. They are supporting the oil industry that has a virtual monopoly on energy. Our economy is run on oil and we are addicted to oil. A transportation system dependent on individual cars and trucks, rather than adequate public transit, dictates a continued use of a commodity controlled by a few companies.

Under Bush and the Republicans, there is no regulation of the oil industry because it is contrary to their free market economy beliefs and against their patrons who put them into office. They say there is no price gouging for gasoline because the oil companies are free to charge as much as they want, as long as consumers are willing to pay. So far consumers have continued to pay. Unfortunately there are no alternatives for most people..

Oil companies have found that Americans are pretty gullible. Bush’s never ending war on “terrorism” is right out of George Orwell’s 1984. Iraq and terrorism get blamed for contributing to higher gas prices.

But many Americans now see that our invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Bush has no plan to end or win the war. He hopes that the continuing war will make those who started it seem legitimate, as terrorist actions continue. Unfortunately the Iraq War has fostered increased recruitment and training for new terrorists. It has not made us any more energy independent or secure.

Would we be in Iraq if not for oil? Would we be in the Middle East if not for oil? Is the tradeoff worth it, oil for increasing terrorist motivation and training.

The bottom line is really about oil and profits, while Bush and Rove insist otherwise. America’s problem is that oilmen in the White House and Congress, who are running our country, have no incentive to find real alternatives to oil, especially when they can rack up record profits. The Iraq War has become an unfortunate consequence of oilmen seeking to keep reaping outrageous profit from an economy dependent on oil.

Bush and his oilmen have no incentive to increase the mileage requirements for cars and trucks. They have no incentives to start a serious switch to energy independence and end our addiction to oil. They have made us the hostages in the process. Why should they care as long as we pay the higher prices?

Unfortunately these same oil companies , in racking up record profits, are taking the nickels and dimes and quarters of America’s low income and minimum wage workers to fuel their profits and growth. They are producing hardship for middle income families in paying bills and providing for heath care and education for their children. And the Iraq War is draining our society of money for basic human needs. The price we are actually paying for a free market economy dependent on oil is horrendous.

And what are the oil companies now doing? They are buying up alternative energy companies and building their own subsidiaries so they can continue their monopoly of America’s energy resources – to continue to reap as many profits as they can from selling energy to America’s citizens.

What American consumer’s need to think about is why they would think that the oil companies who seem to have no problem taking obscene profits now, and not worrying about hurting the lives of average citizens, are going to be any different with any other energy sources they might own in the future.

Americans really need to wake up and rally around ending our addiction to oil and working not just for energy independence from foreign sources , but also energy independence from price gouging energy conglomerates. Americans need to demand much more fuel efficient cars, more decentralized small sources of energy from wind and solar, and increased energy efficiency. These actions will increase America’s security and independence.

This isn’t going to happen as long as oilmen run the White House and Republicans control the House and the Senate. Our only hope is to boot the oil loving Republicans out of office and put Democrats in control. And then we will have to make sure they do the right thing for America.

"The fish are dying…Kill the fish for California…We want dogs to die"

A reminder of the scum that was Enron!

Below is my transcription of part of one taped conversation beween traders on Enron’s West Coast Trading desk before Enron collapsed. See below to hear audios and see transcripts of other taped conversations. Thanks to the Snohomish PUD in Washington State for fighting to make these recordings public.

Excerpt from Stupid Enron West Coast Trader Desk Conversation:

I know, me too Sonny, you know see, you should be the Senator or some kind of Congressman there in California because it, it, you know what I hate, Sonny
I hate when people are talking stupid. Ha ha

I do too, heh, heh

What we, because you know the more water…. I don’t think they have much water left, Bonneville doesn’t.

Oh really?

It’s getting hot up here. The thing that saved us is it’s never been hot up here.

Uh, Huh.

It’s fucking 90 degrees up here.


So they‘ve got to keep all their power here. Nothing forced them to keep their power here so they said oh, California here you come and –it’s beautiful.

Oh, man.

And so my thing is, is you know these guys are just fucking loving it because they’re just getting paid 250 but we’re like, you’re killing the fish, you know, by sending all this water down there. We’re trying to get the fish agencies to rally around us – to keep the water up here.

Oh, oh you’re literally killing the fish?

Yeah man, you’re taking the water out of the river man, and not covering the eggs. Now, you know, the fish are dying cause, you know

The salmon you mean or what?

The salmon. Yeah. You push that button up here…

Oh yeah you got to go with the tree hugger button …

Yeah, exactly our motto is Do you save the Californians or do you kill… kill the fish for the Californians? That is basically the motto.

Oh yeah, you want to ….you kill the Californians huh?

That’s what I’m pushing for…

Heh, heh

I won’t … you know. Our motto up here is we want the dogs to die.

That’s mean, isn’t it?

No that’s true. But that’s a big conflict is, you know, they think short term to keep the lights on in California. We’ll do anything to keep the lights on in California. We like, even kill the fish? Then the fish people, oh yeah, that’s right. So then we rally around that.

So is that going to work?

Aah trying to …

We’ll find out next week, huh?

Yeah. So this is kind of look … That’s my life man.

Yeah, that sounds exciting.

The above is part of just one taped conversation between traders on Enron’s West Coast Trading desk before Enron collapsed. Some other conversations have gotten a lot of play but I thought this one was of local interest to Washington ratepayers. In total some 24,000 hours of tapes exist. The Snohomish PUD sued to make the tapes available. They are still not all available, and Enron and FERC have opposed making more available.

Senator Maria Cantwell handed out a CD that included this conversation at her press conference last month where she challenged Enron’s paltry compensation proposal on electricity contracts that Enron overcharged the Snohomish Public Utility District. She also argued that all the Enron se tapes need to be made public, not suppressed and hidden away.

Thanks to the Seattle Times you can hear the rest of the above conversation at

There are a number of other audios and transcripts. This one is part of the one that starts “The big conflict is …” near the bottom of the page.

You can also read the posted Seattle Times transcript of this conversation at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/local/links/enron-240.pdf


Senator Cantwell Press Conference a Shocker in More Ways than One!

At a press conference in Seattle today Senator Cantwell called the latest proposal to settle Enron bankruptcy claims with Northwest ratepayers an “insult“. She berated the blatant attempt to suppress Enron evidence and the attempt to make the NW ratepayers the deep pockets for settling Enron’s bankruptcy.

The proposal drafted by Enron and FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) proposes settling for pennies on the dollar for Enron overcharges. The proposal now goes to the three FERC commissioners for approval.

The current proposal started with some $20 million in disputed overcharges to the Snohomish PUD but has been expanded to cover much more. It includes a blatant and outrageous attempt to suppress the public seeing any new Enron information and proposes suppressing current information from being used for other cases.

Enron is also trying to collect some $120 million from the Snohomish PUD for contracts that were terminated. The Enron-FERC proposal would keep sealed the documents from the current case. This would severely hinder the Snohomish PUD in presenting its case on the $120 million contract termination dispute.

FERC is supposed to regulate energy wholesale prices and by law is supposed to protect ratepayers by assuring that rates are “just and reasonable”. FERC ignored repeated requests from Western states to intervene in controlling the price spikes in 2000 and 2001 that drove electric rates as much as 100 times current prices. They made some references to a free market as their rationale. The problem was that Enron was manipulating the market. See more on FERC at Frontline’s What is FERC?

FERC’s initial look at Enron’s practices was lukewarm and failed to uncover audiotapes and other documents that now have emerged. As Senator Cantwell notes, The failure to uncover those audiotapes and other data raised serious questions in my mind … about the thoroughness of FERC’s investigation. Still more flags were raised when we learned that FERC staff had previously attempted to quash or exclude portions of this evidence from the record.”

Senator Cantwell continued to pursue the issue.

Finally in June 2004 former FERC Chairman Wood told Senator Cantwell and Senator Lieberman of Connecticut that some $800,000 0f taxpayer money would be committed for further investigation. Out of this additional investigation , some $1.8 billion was determined by FERC staff to be “illegal profit” As such it was supposed to be returned to ratepayers.

The current Enron-FERC proposal, if approved, would void any further action by FERC to return funds to NW ratepayers. It would also seal from public view critical evidence of Enron’s misdeeds.

Cantwell responded, “We’ve been fighting for years to get justice for Northwest ratepayers, and now the same Federal regulators who just hired an ex-Enron attorney are proposing a settlement that will give families and businesses less than one percent of what these corporate criminals took. This is an insult to hard-working families overwhelmed by years of record-high energy costs. We need honesty and fairness from energy regulators. Northwest families deserve better than a settlement that pays pennies to the dollar.”

Senator Cantwell was joined in condemning the proposal before FERC by representatives of the Snohomish and Grays Harbor PUD’s, the Port of Seattle and Ash Grove Cement.

Enron, through market manipulation, price gouging and other methods, helped to create the Western Power Crisis in 2000 and 2001 by manipulating energy markets and artificially driving up prices to exorbitant levels. Enron declared bankruptcy in Dec 2001.

Everyone thinks that California ratepayers suffered the most as a result of Enron’s manipulating the energy markets. Enron’s profit and loss statements for 2000 and 2001 actually show the opposite. Enron showed a profit of $694,580,802 for that time from the Pacific Northwest compared to $347,238,448 profit from California, a 2:1 ratio.

Northwest ratepayers took the biggest hit from Enron’s manipulation of the markets.

Senator Cantwell Continues Fight Against Enron to Protect NW Ratepayers

Senator Maria Cantwell is holding a press conference this morning in Seattle to oppose a proposed settlement of overcharge claims by the Snohomish PUD against Enron.

Senator Cantwell is sending a letter today to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urging that they reject this settlement. She calls the agreement “woefully inadequate.” The proposed settlement was made by FERC staff and Enron.

The Snohomish PUD filed a claim of over $20 million against Enron for overcharges as Enron
manipulated the electricity market in 2000 – 2001. The proposed settlement is for only $2.3 million.

Enron went bankrupt after manipulating the energy markets and stealing millions and millions of dollars from businesses and other ratepayers. The Snohomish PUD has said these illicit actions by Enron total over $1.8 billion for all ratepayers.

Despite pleadings from ratepayers and the states for the Federal government to get involved Bush stood on the sidelines doing nothing. FERC did nothing.

The Snohomish PUD cancelled its contract with Enron just days before Enron filed for bankruptcy on Dec 2, 2001. Enron, even though bankrupt, filed a $125 million contract-termination suit against the Snohomish PUD.

Efforts by the Snohomish PUD and Senator Cantwell helped bring to light the shady corrupt practices of Enron.

Particularly troubling now is a part of the proposed agreement that would hide a lot of evidence in this case from the public. The settlement says that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will “withdraw all pleadings, testimony, related exhibits, discovery requests of any type, and all additional requests for relief filed with FERC.”

This action would hurt the Snohomish PUD’s efforts to defend itself against Enron’s contract termination penalty claim.

And it would nullify the amendment Cantwell added to Senate legislation that gave FERC authority to cancel these termination fees as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Why are Republicans Still Ignoring U.S.Senator Cantwell’s ENRON Reforms?

ENRON is again front and center in the news. But where are the Republicans, who control Congress, in efforts to prevent another ENRON from severely impacting ratepayers? Where are Republicans like Mike McGavick in urging action to protect Northwest ratepayers? Missing in action!

Meanwhile U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State has made very clear her position of the need to protect Washington State ratepayers from another ENRON. Last year she introduced S. 33 in the U.S. Senate. The bill is straightforward, easy to understand, and short:

S. 33 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the “Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now (ENRON) Act”.
(a) PROHIBITION.–Part II of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, to use or employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of electric energy or the purchase or sale of transmission services subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such regulations as the Commission may promulgate as appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of electric ratepayers.”.
(b) RATES RESULTING FROM MARKET MANIPULATION.–Section 205(a) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824d(a)) is amended by inserting after “not just and reasonable” the following: “or that result from a manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance”.

Did the Republicans who run Congress or President Bush ever act on this legislation? No! Are they doing anything now? No!

So its obvious – the current Republican Congress and President Bush agree that it is all right to charge ratepayers for increased electrical rates that occur as a result of “a manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance” done by unscrupulous energy traders and brokers.

To refresh our memories on this issue let me quote from Senator Cantwell’s statement in the Congressional Record

“…the release of audiotapes of Enron traders gloating about their ability to manipulate energy markets shocked the Nation. As more tapes surface and energy prices continue to rise, the need for the Senate to pass the ENRON Act has never been more clear.

A public utility near Seattle, which is trying to get back the money it lost to Enron’s unscrupulous energy trading practices, received the tapes from the Justice Department. These tapes confirm what we all suspected: Enron manipulated energy markets and gouged consumers.

According to these tapes, Enron traders celebrated when a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California in 2000. This shutdown cut power supplies and raised energy prices. An energy trader sang: “Burn, baby, burn. That’s a beautiful thing.”

These taped conversations also provide evidence that Enron made secret pacts with power producers, and Enron traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants to shut down. The traders also brag about their ability to manipulate markets and steal money from the “grandmothers of California,” who one trader called “Grandma Millie.”

The arrogance of these traders shocks the conscience. It also demonstrates the need for Congress to protect consumers from energy market manipulation. We cannot let the market abuses that took place during the Western energy crisis of 2000 happen again.

What was the Republican Senate response. Well as Senator Cantwell noted:

“…this language was stripped from the omnibus spending bill. These necessary protections were also omitted from the final energy conference report and the revised energy bill we voted on in April 2004. ”

If you think it doesn’t make a difference whether Republicans or Democrats control the US Congress think again. This is just one example among many that point the differences. The US Senate does not need any more Republicans and certainly not from Washington state.

Next time you see Republican Insurance Salesman Mike McGavick, who is running against Senator Cantwell, ask him where he was while ENRON was ripping off Washington state ratepayers. We know where Senator Cantwell was.

Senator Maria Cantwell’s campaign can be reached at Maria Cantwell for U.S. Senate