Washington, D.C. — The American Gas Association (AGA) today is urging members of Congress to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides critical dollars to low-income Americans struggling to heat and cool their homes, a particularly daunting task in the face of an economic downturn.
“LIHEAP is a vital safety net for less fortunate Americans who are too often faced with the decision to heat or eat,” said Thomas E. Skains, AGA chairman and president and CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas in Charlotte, N.C. “With adequate funding, however, this type of question would not have to be asked.”
Volunteers from advocacy groups will join AGA in visiting hundreds of Congressional offices as part of “Washington Action Day for LIHEAP,” organized by the National Fuel Funds Network. This annual fly-in brings together low-income consumer advocates and energy utility representatives to push for full funding of LIHEAP and to raise awareness of the current lack of adequate funding to help low-income families keep their homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
“Many of the households that benefit from LIHEAP funds are home to a disproportionately high number of young children, senior citizens, disabled and sick people who simply cannot afford to be left to the harsh realities of the weather,” said Skains. “We ask Congress to help shelter these Americans from the unrelenting cold during the bitter winter months and scorching heat brought by rising summer temperatures.”
While Congress appropriated a record $5.1 billion for LIHEAP for fiscal year 2009, only about 20 percent of those who are eligible for funding actually receive it because of funding shortages.