Congressman calls for increased funds to help needy Americans pay energy costs
In our industry, we know firsthand that LIHEAP serves as a lifeline for families that can’t make ends meet. An especially cold winter can spell disaster for these hardworking citizens
Washington, DC – The American Gas Association (AGA) today lauded Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) for calling attention to the plight of needy Americans by introducing the “Energy Assistance for American Families Act.” The bill would increase authorized funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to $7.6 billion per year for fiscal years 2011 to 2014 – an increase of $2.5 billion over current funding.
“In our industry, we know firsthand that LIHEAP serves as a lifeline for families that can’t make ends meet. An especially cold winter can spell disaster for these hardworking citizens,” said David N. Parker, AGA president and CEO. “We join Congressman Markey in urging Congress to increase funding for this critical program so that no American feels the bite of winter in his or her own home.”
Even at its current level of $5.1 billion, LIHEAP is significantly underfunded, reaching just a portion of families in need of energy assistance. And in light of current economic and job insecurity, it is imperative that LIHEAP funding is increased so that as many American families as possible can rely on it to manage monthly energy bills.
Natural gas utilities play a major role in providing more than $2 billion annually in program assistance to needy families. Many states also supplement LIHEAP with their own fuel assistance programs. But in spite of these efforts, energy assistance to those in need still falls short.
“Last week, President Obama called for $3.3 billion in LIHEAP funds as part of his 2011 budget,” said Parker. “While we acknowledge the president’s attention to the issue, we can adamantly say that this level of funding is inadequate. AGA asks that the administration and Congress support Congressman Markey’s proposed funding increase so that fewer Americans are faced with the choice to ‘heat or eat’ next year.”