“Covering dramatic increases in natural gas and heating oil prices is presenting a potential hardship for citizens. … If Congress does not increase LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funding in the next few weeks, state programs across the country could run dry, and the number of households unable to meet their basic heating needs could skyrocket,” Granholm wrote in a letter to House and Senate appropriation leaders.
The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected winter heating costs increases of up to 77 percent compared to last winter. Last year, Congress and the President approved a LIHEAP funding ceiling of $5.1 billion as part of its comprehensive Energy Bill. However, only $2.16 billion was appropriated for FY 2006, an amount that serves only one out of about five eligible families nationwide. Michigan’s current annual LIHEAP allotment is approximately $117 million and serves nearly 1 million residents.
“In Michigan, we are taking action to protect our residents, including increasing funding for heating assistance,” Granholm said. “Washington needs to do its part and support states’ efforts to provide heating assistance as higher prices make staying warm this winter less affordable for every family.”
The governors, led by Granholm and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), are urging federal lawmakers to immediately pass $2 billion in immediate additional LIHEAP assistance to significantly boost regular heating assistance for 2006. Last September, Granholm and 27 other governors sent a similar letter to lawmakers requesting an additional $1.276 billion in emergency LIHEAP funds.
The Venezuelan government’s Citgo has already assisted individuals in four states, who quality for low cost heating. See related story on page 3 of the Feb. 8, 2006 issue of La Prensa, which can be viewed on line at www.laprensa1.com.