Governmental Affairs Committee Minority Report: FERC Deserves Credit for Positive Changes

Washington, DC ? Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN) today released the Committee?s minority views on the recent hearing regarding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and its oversight of the Enron Corporation.

The Committee undertook an extensive investigation of FERC, which is charged with regulating the wholesale energy markets.  This Minority Report is intended to provide ?the rest of the story? to the Majority Report on FERC, which was released November 12.

?While there is widespread agreement that FERC had significant problems in overseeing the rapidly developing energy markets of the 1990?s and a critical lack of regulatory leadership during California?s energy crisis in 2000, the record of failure ended 18 months ago when the current commission took shape,? said Senator Thompson.

While the Majority Report correctly identifies FERC?s regulatory failures as they relate to Enron, in the judgment of the minority, it fails to give appropriate recognition to the positive changes at FERC that have occurred since Patrick Wood became Chairman, and it purports to paint both Chairman Wood and his fellow Commissioner, Nora Brownell with the tainted Enron brush while ignoring contacts between Enron and other FERC Commissioners who were serving at the time of FERC?s oversight failures.

In coming to FERC, Chairman Wood inherited a sizable set of challenges and has implemented a formidable plan.  The minority report recognizes the importance of analyzing FERC as it exists today, and the progress that has been made in the past 18 months.  The report also recognizes FERC?s positive developments on several fronts involving the creation of a new department of market oversight and investigation and a number of rule-making proposals designed to prevent a recurrence of the problems highlighted by the Enron debacle.

FERC and its Oversight of Enron Corp.