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WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced they were calling on the Justice Department to conduct a "full investigation" into Enron's manipulation of the Western energy market.

"Washington state consumers are on the hook for millions of dollars because Enron engaged in illegal activities to artificially inflate the cost of power," Cantwell said. "Washington state consumers deserve to see the people responsible for this punished."

"Washington families and businesses have been robbed by out-of-state energy barons," Murray said. "We are hopeful that the Administration's Justice Department can succeed where its FERC has failed."

The text of the letter follows:

May 8, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:

As you are likely aware, last year energy customers in several western states including our state of Washington suffered through retail rate increases of up to fifty percent.

In attempts to avoid unexplained skyrocketing power costs, many utilities entered into long-term contracts with Enron and other companies, and are currently continuing to pay prices that far exceed the market rate for power.

The above market cost of the long-term contracts held by Bonneville Power Administration alone is estimated to be $350 million.

For many months, we have urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to investigate whether energy trading companies were purposefully manipulating power supply in order to drive up prices.

In part as the result of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) investigation requested by Senator Cantwell, along with Senators Feinstein and Wyden at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on January 29, 2002, Enron has now disclosed several memoranda that make clear that it did in fact develop premeditated strategies to manipulate power supply and drive up power prices throughout the West.

We therefore write to request that you promptly open a criminal investigation into what actions were taken by Enron and its employees to manipulate power supply and prices during 2000 and 2001.

The people of our state continue to bear the burden of potentially unlawful conduct by Enron. Each time they open a utility bill electricity costs are artificially high due to binding contracts entered into by utilities in our state seeking to minimize cost increases last year potentially caused by Enron's now admitted manipulation of supply.

We are confident that the Department's ongoing effort to investigate and prosecute Enron for its conduct in filing fraudulent financial reports harmful to investors, can easily be expanded to include a full investigation of actions taken by Enron and its employees that had equally grave consequences for the people of our state.

We have long suspected that the people of our state were defrauded by Enron in ways that far exceed the loss of over $100 million in state pension fund investments, and we look forward to your Department's efforts to provide a full and complete investigation of Enron's actions.

Sincerely,

Senators Maria Cantwell & Patty Murray