From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Supports Amendment to Restore Energy Funds to California Consumers

June 25, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon on the House floor in support of an amendment sponsored by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California to demand the release of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission documents surrounding the 2000 and 2001 energy crisis in California and other Western states. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, before I speak directly to the amendment on the floor, I want to put it in context. Last night, Congresswoman Eshoo went to the Rules Committee to request a waiver to offer an amendment that would help Western families get the refunds they deserve after they were ripped off by Enron and others.

"The Eshoo amendment, as advanced last night, would have also allowed states to participate in claims at FERC, on behalf of consumers, and would have provided more time for the public to file complaints. The amendment would have put this Congress on record recognizing the misconduct of Enron and other energy companies, and it would have required FERC to disclose the evidence of manipulation that it has accumulated over the past four years.

"It was a very wise amendment, and it was exactly what the consumers of the Western states needed to remedy the injuries against them.

"Unfortunately, and it's hard to understand why, the Rules Committee, chaired by Congressman David Dreier of California, did not allow that amendment to be offered today. We are told this is an 'open' rule with open debate, but the Rules Committee ruled against Western consumers when it did not allow the original Eshoo amendment to come to the floor. It did not give the consumers the measure they deserve.

"That is why I am pleased that we were able to bring at least a partial amendment, and that Congressman Hobson, will accept this amendment offered by Congresswoman Eshoo, Congressman DeFazio, and Congressman Inslee. This much more limited amendment would ensure public access to documents, held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on the 2000 and the 2001 electricity crisis in California and other Western states.

"This amendment is a crucial first step, not as good as the original amendment would have been, but it is a critical first step in bringing justice to consumers who were gouged by Enron and other energy companies. But it is not enough.

"Mr. Speaker, my constituents and the constituents of those of us who represent the Western states were victims of an enormous scam. Yes, the electricity deregulation signed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson was fatally flawed. But when the flaws became clear, when the electricity prices began to spike, when the blackouts began to roll across California, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have been our safety net.

"Instead, month after month, as electricity prices went sky-high, FERC refused to act.

"Time and time again, my Western colleagues and I stood together to call on FERC and President Bush to stop the looting of the Western states by rapacious energy companies. We wrote to FERC. We wrote to the President. We stood up in the Appropriations Committee. We stood up on the floor of the House. But, time and time again, FERC failed to stop the rampant abuse of consumers by Enron and other energy companies.

"Finally, after Western consumers had lost billions of dollars, and the worst of the damage was done, FERC stepped in and brought the Western electricity markets under control.

"We knew all along that Enron and the energy companies were gaming the system. The now notorious tapes, which every member of this body has an obligation to observe, of Enron traders confirm what we knew all along - Enron and the other energy companies were laughing all the way to the bank us as they stole from families and businesses of California.

"Enron and its kind lied, cheated, and stole, and it is long past time for Enron to pay consumers and the states back, as Congresswoman Eshoo's amendment, that she offered last night but was turned down by the Rules Committee, would have required. Even after adoption of this amendment that we're considering today, settlements will still be made by FERC behind closed doors without representatives of the states present.

"We wish that we were voting today on the amendment we wanted, so that the House could address the larger problem. But at least we are taking this first step toward justice for consumers.

"Today, the House is unanimously agreeing that FERC release its evidence of corporate misconduct to the public. That's what the Rules Committee should have allowed us to do in a broader way last night, but they rejected it. I call on the Republicans to join us in ensuring that FERC live up to this bipartisan decision, and that it release this information."




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