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Congressman wants energy regulator to resign

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Democratic member of Congress has called on the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resign in the wake of allegations that Enron Corp. officials played a role in his appointment.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-New Jersey, wrote a letter Friday to FERC Chairman Pat Wood, saying that Wood's "ability to fairly and neutrally oversee the country's energy policies has been irrevocably compromised."

Pascrell charged that Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, who has since resigned, interviewed potential FERC nominees and presented a list of his choices to President Bush's personnel director.

The list contained the names of Wood and another FERC member, Nora Brownell, the congressman said.

Pascrell, a three-term Democrat from Paterson, also said potential commissioners had to pass a "litmus test" that made it clear they would support Enron's interests if appointed to the commission. Since Bush took office, FERC has made 18 regulatory decisions regarding Enron, he said.

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"One simply cannot have confidence in the neutrality of FERC at this time," Pascrell said.

Former FERC Commissioner Curtis Hebert Jr. told CNN in January that Enron had lobbied Congress and other government officials for changes in energy policy that would help the company.

Hebert said Lay told him "he and his company, Enron, could no longer support me as chairman," when Hebert would not make a policy change Enron supported.

Hebert left the FERC in August.

Enron, once listed as No. 7 on the Fortune 500, filed for bankruptcy in December amid allegations it engaged in questionable accounting practices, hid losses, lied about profits, and later destroyed financial documents as investigations multiplied. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.




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