Bingaman on Blackout Report

April 5, 2004
10:18 AM
After last summer’s massive blackout, the U.S. and Canadian governments gathered electricity experts to study why the outage occurred and recommend ways to prevent or minimize future power failures. The U.S.-Canada Power Outage Task Force’s report will be released at 1 p.m. today. Sen. Bingaman, ranking member on the Senate Energy Committee and an authority on electricity policy, has this to say: "The Task Force urges Congress to pass legislation that creates mandatory and enforceable electricity reliability standards -- legislation that is backed by appropriate government oversight and which includes penalties for failure to comply with those rules. That is why I gladly joined my colleague, Sen. Cantwell, in placing a bill on the Senate Calendar (S.2236) last week that does precisely that. "I don’t believe there is anyone in the Senate who thinks that we don’t need such legislation. The only question is in what form. Sen. Cantwell’s bill contains the identical reliability language that is in the much larger energy bill proposed by the Republicans, S.2095. However, for reasons that are well known and have been widely reported, it appears less and less likely that that bill will succeed in the Senate (or, if it does, survive a conference with the House). "Again and again, our country has experienced crippling blackouts. Again and again, task forces have recommended that the Congress pass legislation to establish mandatory rules for reliability, with government oversight and penalties for failure to comply with those rules. Again and again, the Congress has failed to do so. "This latest task force report makes clear, once again, that it’s time for Congress to pass reliability legislation. I hope that the Majority Leader will seek consent to pass S. 2236 at the earliest opportunity possible."

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