INTRODUCTION OF THE SMALL BUSINESS AND FARM ENERGY EMERGENCY RELIEF ACT OF 2004 -- HON. JOHN B. LARSON (Extensions of Remarks - November 20, 2004)
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker I rise today to introduce the Small Business and Farm Energy Emergency Relief Act of 2004.
According to the October 2004 Short-Term Energy Outlook published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) at the Department of Energy, residential heating expenditures are projected to increase for all fuel types compared to year-ago levels and are even likely to generate higher expenditures even in regions where demand for fuel is expected to fall. The average residential natural gas prices are expected to be 11 percent higher than they were last winter, and household expenditures are expected to be 15 percent higher. Heating oil prices are expected to average 29 percent higher compared with last winter and household expenditures are expected to be 28 percent higher. Propane prices are expected to average 17 percent above last winter, with 22 percent higher expenditures for propane-heated households.
The high and rising costs of oil, natural gas, and propane, and other petroleum distillates, can have a significant economic impact on small businesses, farms, and distributors, as well as a larger overall negative impact on the economy. In fact, the future energy outlook is so grim that EIA is predicting that next year high world oil prices will begin to slow the pace of world economic growth.
We must take action today to ensure relief to America's farms and small businesses before the worst of winter and the coming energy crisis is upon us. That is why I am proposing an expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) at the Small Business Administration and the Emergency Loans at the Department of Agriculture so that small businesses and farms that suffer direct economic injury by, or are likely to suffer direct economic injury by, significant increases in the prices of heating oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas, or electricity are eligible to apply for those loans.
The United States economy should not be held hostage to foreign oil interests. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of our small businesses and farms.