A district judge was expected to rule as early as Monday night on whether McGraw-Hill Cos. subsidiary Platts would be required to turn over its natural gas trading data to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) following a hearing in Houston on Monday. The CFTC subpoenaed the data as part of an investigation into market manipulation during the western energy crisis.

Stephen Obie, a CFTC attorney, told Judge Lynn Hughes that the companies involved either don’t have the data needed or the data submitted by the companies couldn’t be verified. “McGraw-Hill is the only one holding the smoking gun.” The CFTC had petitioned the court in May to compel the publisher to produce documents it had subpoenaed last February (see Daily GPI, May 21).

However, McGraw-Hill attorneys countered that the data used by its Platts publications, Gas Daily and Inside FERC are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They also rejected Obie’s claims that the companies don’t have the data. Already, argued the attorneys, McGraw-Hill has released more than 10,000 pages covering more than four years of price data at 70 key trading points in the United States.

McGraw-Hill attorney Victor Kovner also noted that “without these documents,” Dynegy Inc. and El Paso Corp. have settled their CFTC cases regarding gas price manipulation during the western energy crisis. CFTC’s request, said Kovner is the “quintessential fishing expedition.”

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