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Senators Urge Obama To Release Heating Subsidies

Senators Urge Obama To Release Heating Subsidies

 Low income heating program provided $5.1 bln in 2010

* Senators want release of $590 mln in emergency funds

 By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers on Friday encouraged the White House to release more than $590 million in emergency federal funding to help low-income families pay their energy bills.

A bipartisan group of senators said the additional money is necessary to help residents dealing with cold temperatures across the country and high unemployment.

“We urge you to release these resources as soon as possible to address the needs of families and seniors who are struggling in the current economic crisis,” the senators said in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, commonly known as LIHEAP, was allocated $5.1 billion for fiscal year 2010, including the $590 million in contingency funding.

This is the highest level of funding in the history of the program, but the demand for assistance continues to outpace the financial support, the letter said.

The contingency funding would supplement the block grants the states are already spending.

Led by Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, the letter was signed by 48 senators.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the energy assistance program, was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Christian Wiessner) (([email protected]; +1 202 310 5683; Reuters Messaging: [email protected])) ((For help: Click “Contact Us” in your desk top, click here [HELP] or call 1-800-738-8377 for Reuters Products and 1-888-463-3383 for Thomson products; For client training: [email protected] ; +1 646-223-5546)) Keywords: CONGRESS ENERGY/LIHEAP

Anyone remember this from 2008?

Help From Hugo Chavez:  Free Heating Oil For Needy U.S. Families

by Vicki Ekstrom, Special to Stateline.org
*Stateline.org was a project of the Pew Research Center from 2004 to 2008. As of July 1, 2008, it is a project of the Pew Center on the States.
April 14, 2008

Close to 200,000 poor families in 15 cold-weather states — in every Northeastern state except New Hampshire — can thank controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for helping them heat their homes this winter.

Figure

The Venezuelan-controlled oil-refining company, Citgo Petroleum Corp., donated 45 million gallons of free home heating oil this winter in a move that bought good publicity for the country’s socialist leader, who famously called President Bush “the devil” in a 2006 United Nations speech.

But New Hampshire’s lack of participation in this year’s free-oil program shows that accepting oil from Chavez, a frequent critic of the U.S. government, touches a political nerve.

“There’s the thought that by participating we’re somehow helping Venezuela and Chavez and that it’s not something good for the U.S. government,” said Gale Hennessey, director of Southern New Hampshire Services, which works with the state to administer aid to low-income households.

Venezuela’s offer of free oil this winter came as the U.S. economy was slumping, federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) had dropped and home heating-oil prices hit a record high at more than $3.50 a gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration database of monthly prices since 1990.

The almost 200,000 American families helped by Venezuela this winter is small compared with the almost 6 million families helped through LIHEAP. But LIHEAP was able to help only about 16% of families needing assistance, so Venezuela’s program helped to fill a void until its supplies were exhausted early this winter season.

Read the full report at stateline.org

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