Berkshire Eagle article by Ellen G. Lahr

PITTSFIELD — Sen. John F. Kerry, at a public hearing that underscored the unique impact of energy costs on New England and the Berkshires, yesterday announced he will propose a Justice Department fraud task force to investigate energy market manipulation and corruption.

"With Americans questioning the fairness of record-high oil and gas prices, and the Bush administration's failure to act, we have no choice but to fill the void ourselves," Kerry told an audience of business and political leaders at Berkshire Community College.

Tales of climbing oil and electric costs and the challenges of "efficiency" carried the discussion at yesterday's hearing. Still, Kerry urged that achieving efficiency is the first, and most accessible, weapon in the fight against the unpredictable energy market.

"Congress has received testimony from energy market experts and major oil company executives that the price of oil and gas can no longer be explained or predicted by normal market dynamics or their historic understanding of supply and demand forces," he said.

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