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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4614, Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2005

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 694 and ask for its immediate consideration.


Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, in the late 1990s, California, whose energy markets dominate the effect up and down the West Coast, adopted a competitive market for electric generation. Under Federal law, if a State adopts that competitive model, it gives up the right to regulate wholesale energy prices and transfers that responsibility to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In late 2000 and early 2001, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, slept during an artificial crisis during the winter; and over $9 billion was stolen.

Why do I emphasize winter? Westerners will understand this. We had enough electric generation capacity to power our air conditioners in the summer, but somehow there was not enough electricity for the much lower demand to keep the lights on in the winter. Why? We were told that there was a shortage because plants were "closed for maintenance."

Here is the chart that illustrates what happened. The blue indicates the noncrisis previous year as to the number of plants and the amount of electricity not generated thereby due to maintenance. The yellow shows the crisis, closed for maintenance.

Now the transcripts are out. Not just Enron but Reliant and other Presidentially protected corporate criminals were closing the plants in order to create an artificial shortage.

Now the transcripts that are most famous are obscene. They include the now-famous quote that says, Gramma Millie, she wants her F-ing money back for all the money you jammed up her orifice for $250 a megawatt hour. That is thought to be the most obscene quote, but truly the most obscene, and there are dozens like this quote, is when an Enron trader turns to the plant manager and says, "just go ahead and shut it down." Closed for maintenance, artificial shortage, $9 billion stolen.

The responsibility for this, the greatest economic crime in our history, is not just for the thieves but those who protect them.

Whose side are Members on? Reliant and Enron and the others who shut plants down to create an artificial shortage?
Or on the side of Gramma Millie and other western consumers? Members define themselves and define their party with their vote on the previous question.

Reliant is relying on the other side to protect them; and the other side may indeed enjoy a hollow victory today as they shut down debate and prevent us from even discussing an amendment to require FERC to let the western States see the documents, to require FERC to look at the fraud that occurred before a complaint was filed. They can win that hollow victory today, but 45 million westerners, including the voters of three swing States, are watching. The other side of the aisle cannot hide from them, and Gramma Millie's revenge is less than 5 months away.

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