News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Late Thursday, the Senate abandoned efforts to pass the 2003 Energy Bill and instead re-passed last year’s bill by a vote of 84-14. Senator Murray had serious reservations over the lack of consumer protections and national grid policy, and therefore voted against the legislation.



Senator Murray issued the following statement:



“I did not support the Energy bill that passed the Senate on Thursday. In a last minute effort to pass an Energy bill, the Senate voted on and passed last year’s Energy bill as opposed to allowing amendments to be offered that could strengthen the current bill.



Last year, with great reservation, I supported the bill because it contained some favorable provisions for Washington State, including increased borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration. This borrowing authority, later provided in the Omnibus Appropriations bill, would enable BPA to build additional power lines to serve customers throughout the state and to expedite the flow of energy throughout the transmission grid. However, I had many reservations that have still not been addressed.



Throughout these debates, I have contended that America needs a comprehensive energy policy. That policy should recognize the current importance of oil, gas, and coal. But to ensure America’s energy security for the future, it must support energy efficiency, conservation, clean and renewable energy sources as we work toward the goal of diversifying America’s sources of energy. These are critical aspects of our nation’s energy security for the future.



While the bill passed last night was better in many regards than the ’03 Energy bill, it still does not do enough to promote clean and renewable energy generation.



I am also concerned that the legislation gives FERC new authority without protecting consumers. Times have changed since last year’s bill was drafted. The electricity title from last year was drafted before federal regulators determined energy suppliers manipulated power and natural gas prices during the 2000- 2001 energy crisis. This bill does not outlaw the many predatory market manipulation practices that were used by companies such as Enron to cheat consumers. Citizens of our state are still paying higher electric bills because of the manipulation of the Big Energy companies.



Further, the bill also fails to include explicit language prohibiting FERC from moving forward on its standard market design rule for a national transmission policy. FERC’s standard market design proposal is a bad policy for the Pacific Northwest and needs to be sent back to the Commission. The legislation passed last Thursday fails to provide this direction.



The House Energy bill is even more unbalanced and short-sighted than the Senate bill on these issues. We need a national energy policy in this country, and I will work to advance one that is sensible and forward-looking.”