Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry today called on the Administration to release heating oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
Senator Kennedy said, "With the sharp rise in heating oil prices, countless families are increasingly worried they won't be able to afford to heat their homes this winter. It's unconscionable that any family should have to choose between heating their home or putting food on the table or seeking medical care. We should act now to ensure that affordable heating oil is available, so that families aren't left helpless in the cold."
"This winter, too many Massachusetts families will struggle to pay their skyrocketing home heating costs. To avoid having senior citizens choose between filling their prescriptions or filling their heating oil tanks, Washington needs to help bridge the growing gap between stagnant incomes and skyrocketing heating costs. Releasing heating oil from the reserve is an important, reasonable step toward making winter heating affordable for families in need and prevent disaster before it strikes in another tough New England winter," said Senator Kerry.
Dear Secretary Bodman:
We're writing to respectfully request that the Department provide Americans relief from skyrocketing home heating oil prices by immediately releasing a sufficient amount of heating oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to calm a market that has seen prices surge this fall.
As you know, Massachusetts is extremely reliant on home heating oil. Almost 40 percent of households in our state rely on heating oil as their primary heating fuel during the winter months. Heating oil prices in Massachusetts are now surpassing $2.90 a gallon, nearly a 150 percent increase over prices in 2001. Wage growth, however, has not kept up with the rising cost of energy, which means that our constituents may not have the income they need to keep warm this winter.
According to the Energy Information Administration, retail heating oil prices will be about 40 cents per gallon higher this winter than last. A household that paid $1,500 for heating oil last winter may have to pay $1,800 this winter for the same amount of heat. Heating oil expenditures are expected to be 20 percent higher this winter, but they could rise by over 30 percent if the weather is colder than expected.
We believe that it is essential for the Department to approve a release from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to ensure that a sufficient supply of heating oil is available and affordable for households this winter. This is an extremely pressing matter, and we urge you to grant this request as soon as possible.
With respect and appreciation, and thank you for considering our request.
Edward Kennedy and John Kerry