(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said the recent Obama Administration decision to release only $1.7 billion for the Low Income Home Heating Program (LIHEAP) makes no sense given the record price of heating oil and the early arrival of cold, snowy weather in New Hampshire and throughout the Northeast.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday it would release only $1.7 billion in LIHEAP funds under the temporary spending measure that Congress passed in September, compared to $4.5 billion for all of 2011. Although spending levels for the full fiscal year have not been set, Senator Shaheen and other senators sent a letter last week urging HHS to release as much funding as possible quickly, so that states can plan effectively and recipients can buy heating oil at the lowest possible price.
“As heating costs rise and temperatures drop, LIHEAP continues to be crucial for low income families who rely on the help to heat their homes and keep their families warm,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire has just been hit by our first snowstorm and it is only October. More LIHEAP funding needs to be released quickly because the families who rely on the assistance can't afford to wait.”
New Hampshire is expected to receive $14.7 million from this release of $1.7 billion, less than half of the $34.3 million it got for the winter of 2010-2011, when more than 45,000 households relied on the New Hampshire LIHEAP program for help.
The Energy Information Administration projects that the price of heating oil will be 10 percent higher this winter than last, the highest average winter price ever predicted. The average heating-oil household is predicted to spend $193 more this winter than last.
Shaheen has been an outspoken advocate for LIHEAP and has opposed efforts to cut funding for it. The federal government provided $4.5 billion in LIHEAP assistance nationwide in 2011, down from $5 billion in 2010.
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