A Legacy of Inaction
Monday, July 19, 2004; Page A16
The July 12 editorial "Enron's Legacy" rightly noted that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has dragged its heels in addressing the manipulation of Western energy markets in 2000 and 2001 by Enron Corp. and other power suppliers. But it also perpetuated the myth, articulated by Vice President Cheney, that "the basic problem in California was caused by Californians."
Contrary to what the editorial said, California's flawed deregulation plan was approved -- not opposed -- by FERC. Even a flawed market design does not pardon power suppliers for gouging consumers. The law requires the refund of excessive rates.
While I also agree with The Post that Congress should have done more, it was not for lack of trying by Western Democrats. Before offering the amendment requiring FERC to disclose the evidence it had on Enron and others, I tried to offer an amendment that would have given FERC enhanced authority to order power companies to pay back revenue from the excessive rates they charged; the amendment was blocked by a partisan majority. This effort was preceded by almost four years of futile legislative attempts to address FERC's toothless enforcement. Even requests for a congressional investigation and hearings were denied. So although Congress shares the blame, a closer inspection of the record reveals that it has been the majority that has blocked aggressive oversight.
ANNA G. ESHOO
U.S. Representative (D-Calif.)
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