Douglas and CONEG Rally Regional Support for Sanders’ LIHEAP Bill

first_imgGovernor Douglas and CONEG Rally Regional Support for Senator Sanders’ LIHEAP BillUrge Federal Government to Provide Billions in Additional LIHEAP Funding in FY2008Waterbury, VT-The Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), chaired by Governor Jim Douglas, has urged the federal government to increase-by billons-federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding in FY08.The Governors lent their support to Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) efforts to provide an additional $2.73 billion in FY2008 funding for LIHEAP in regular program and contingency funding.Further, they supported House-led efforts to increase funding for the program by $3.12 billion, which would fund the program at its fully authorized level and is an important step toward addressing the substantially increased demand for LIHEAP assistance in the wake of skyrocketing home heating prices.”I’ve noted many times how critically important the LIHEAP program is for Vermont’s most vulnerable families, and am pleased to have a ready and willing partner to ensure its continued success in Senator Sanders,” said Governor Douglas. “No Vermonter should be cold in his or her home this winter, or any winter. While the states are doing our part to keep our residents warm-for example, the creation of my new Fuel and Food Partnership here in Vermont-we need a strong financial commitment from our federal partners to ensure the LIHEAP program remains a valuable resource to assist families in making home heating payments.”In letters to Congress, CONEG noted that the estimated cost to heat a home in the Northeast in 2008-2009 will range from $2,400 to $4,300, while the region’s median LIHEAP benefit is approximately $700, or 15 to 30 percent of annual heating costs. To provide these households with a meaningful level of assistance (60 percent of annual heating cost), the average benefit would need to be increased to $2,000-$2,500 per household.Thanks to the financial commitments made by Governor Douglas and the Vermont legislature, last year Vermont provided the most generous LIHEAP benefit in the country, averaging approximately $1169 per household, with approximately 23,000 households served.”To continue to provide a meaningful LIHEAP benefit to support Vermonters hardest hit by rapidly rising fuel prices, it is critical that our state enlists the unwavering support of the federal government,” added Agency of Human Services Secretary Cynthia D. LaWare. “I’m pleased to see the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, the New England Governors’ Conference and other entities working so hard to bring this vitally important issue to the attention of our Congress. Vermont is fully engaged in a variety of state efforts to ensure all our residents stay warm this winter, but we can’t do it alone.”The CONEG further illustrated the strains that high heating costs have placed on households across the country. According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, about 15.6 million households across the country are in arrears to utilities– an increase of 9.5 percent over last year. In some areas of the Northeast, the price of home heating oil is quickly approaching $5 per gallon. At these prices, a single tank of heating oil would cost more than $1,200. At current funding levels, the typical LIHEAP benefit could only cover about half a tank of home heating oil.###last_img

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