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,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now (ENRON) Act”.
SEC. 2. PROHIBITION OF ENERGY MARKET MANIPULATION.
(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:
“SEC. 215. PROHIBITION OF MARKET MANIPULATION.
“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