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by Dan Burns
Jun 9, 2022, 2:30 PM

Speaking of energy prices, remember Enron?

As with so much else, it’s hard to believe it was that long ago. It was in 2001 that Enron crashed. And people really did subsequently go to prison.

In 1985, Kenneth Lay merged the natural gas pipeline companies of Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth to form Enron. In the early 1990s, he helped to initiate the selling of electricity at market prices and, soon after, Congress approved legislation deregulating the sale of natural gas. The resulting markets made it possible for traders such as Enron to sell energy at higher prices, thereby significantly increasing its revenue. After producers and local governments decried the resultant price volatility and asked for increased regulation, strong lobbying on the part of Enron and others prevented such regulation.

Certainly, the people know what’s going on now. This tracks with other recent polling, and it makes sense. The latter is the standard that I primarily use, when gauging the reliability of polling, these days. The tiny percentage that believes corporate gouging is no factor in what’s going on means that even a lot of Trump voters are in touch with reality on this.

The point of this is to note that there is relatively recent precedent for holding market-manipulating price gougers accountable, one way or another, per the criminal code. (Rather interesting, price gouging isn’t a federal crime. It is one in most states, though.) In fact, they’re supposed to go to prison for seriously breaking the law. It’s past time that the law enforcement powers-that-be act on their responsibilities, at both the state and federal levels.

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