California lawmakers say White House is ignoring energy crisis

The White House's ongoing refusal to endorse wholesale electric power caps in California could mean economic problems for the rest of the country, a bipartisan group of California lawmakers said Tuesday said. A group of 41 lawmakers met with Vice-Pres. Dick Cheney on Capitol Hill for about an hour.


Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online

WASHINGTON, DC, June 12 -- The White House's ongoing refusal to endorse wholesale electric power caps in California could mean economic problems for the rest of the country, a bipartisan group of California lawmakers said Tuesday.

"As California goes, so goes the nation," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

A group of 41 lawmakers met with Vice-Pres. Dick Cheney on Capitol Hill for about an hour. Lawmakers said that Cheney vigorously defended the White House's opposition to price caps, saying "price caps do not equal kilowatts."

Cheney said the White House would be "closely watching" an upcoming June 18 meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to see if there is new evidence to suggest price gouging occurred by natural gas suppliers. But he reiterated the White House belief that imposing price caps would stymie investors from building plants and new infrastructure in the state.

That answer, however, "is not enough," said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who accused the White House of shielding "all their friends" in Texas and other oil producing states from the wrath of anti-trust regulators.

During the meeting with Cheney, lawmakers also voiced their displeasure over Tuesday's announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the state's request to sell reformulated gasoline without oxygenates.

Lawmakers said the EPA decision would make energy prices even higher and cause more problems for the state's finances, already fragile because of record electric power prices.

Waxman said legislation would likely be introduced to allow California gasoline to be oxygenate-free, but he said the powerful ethanol fuel lobby would probably make the bill dead on arrival.

Contact Maureen Lorenzetti at maureenl@ogjonline.com

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