Washington, DC – The American Gas Association (AGA) today announced its grave disappointment that the House Appropriations Committee has proposed budget cuts of $400 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and that the Obama administration reportedly is proposing further cuts for LIHEAP in FY2012. According to several media reports, next week the Obama administration’s budget for FY2012 will recommend that LIHEAP funding be reduced by about $2.5 billion from the fully funded level of $5.1 billion.
Essentially cutting LIHEAP funding in half would devastate more than 3.2 million households that cannot currently afford their heating bills. At a time when the country is still recovering from the recent financial crisis and one in seven Americans are living in poverty, these budget cuts will deny people heat, a basic need for survival.
“Millions of American households depend on LIHEAP funding, which ensures that they do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food, medicine or other necessities,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “The reported $2.5 billion in budget cuts to LIHEAP funding are extreme and would severely impact the lives of nearly 9 million people this winter, leaving them unable to heat their homes. That is unacceptable.”
News of the cuts came as AGA helped to bring together in the nation’s capital more than 100 LIHEAP advocates and recipients from across the country to build awareness about this critical program and to advocate for full funding of LIHEAP at $5.1 billion. In conjunction with the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN), AGA hosted a press conference with members of Congress and industry leaders on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Tom Stovall, the chairman of NFFN and the executive director of Operation: New View CAA.
“If these cuts are real, it would be very disappointing for millions of families still struggling through a harsh winter,” said Rep. Edward Markey, as reported in the National Journal.
LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states annual funds to operate home energy assistance programs for low‐income households that struggle to heat their homes in the winter and cool them during the hot summer months. Current funding levels only assist one in five eligible Americans in paying their energy bills. Therefore, the cuts proposed by the House Appropriations Committee and the White House would leave millions more Americans vulnerable this winter.