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Congressional committee to investigate blackouts

Tauzin cites need for energy bill

New York City's skyline was darkened by the blackout.
New York City's skyline was darkened by the blackout.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House Energy and Commerce Committee will investigate the power blackouts that paralyzed large areas from the Midwest to the Eastern seaboard, the panel's chairman announced Friday.

Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana, said a full committee hearing will be held as soon as Congress returns to work in early September.

In a written statement, Tauzin said the blackout underscores the need for a national energy strategy, and he called on his colleagues to pass an energy bill -- something President Bush is also seeking.

"The only sure way to prevent this nightmare from occurring time and time again, in cities all across America, is to modernize and improve our outdated energy policies," Tauzin said.

Tauzin said those asked to testify at the congressional hearing include: Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Pat Wood, New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Tauzin said he had directed committee investigators to begin collecting information pertaining to the blackouts.

"While deeply troubling, it is not especially surprising to me that there has been a failure of a major North American power grid," Tauzin said. "Yesterday's massive blackouts -- the worst in American history -- highlight the critical need for Congress to enact a comprehensive national energy bill this year. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer -- our economy and our way of life are at stake."

Tauzin said he wants to have a strong energy bill on Bush's desk for his signature before Thanksgiving.

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