Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today led a letter, cosigned by 100 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, calling for the President to restore funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to the FY2011 levels of $4.7 billion when he submits his FY2014 budget request. Nationwide, LIHEAP helps low-income households, veterans, and seniors pay their energy bills during the cold winter and hot summer months. More than 200,000 Massachusetts families depend on LIHEAP to help heat their homes, with nearly 60,000 families relying on LIHEAP to help pay for delivered fuel.
"Millions of Americans turn to the LIHEAP program so they don't have to turn off their thermostats during the cold winter months," said Rep. Markey, dean of the New England Congressional delegation. "Tough economic times and budget cuts have meant a reduction in LIHEAP funding but need has only continued to increase. Expanding LIHEAP's funding and availability is absolutely vital as we enter the winter season and our economy recovers. I will continue to fight to ensure that Massachusetts families are not left out in the cold as Congress debates funding for home energy assistance next year."
As funding for the LIHEAP program has declined by 32 percent since FY2010 to $3.47 billion in FY2012, the need for program support continues to exceed the supply of funds available for those who depend upon it. Additionally, this winter, household expenditures for heating oil and natural gas are projected to increase by 19 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Households keeping warm with home heating oil this winter will see their costs rise by $407. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced it will cost households almost $2,500 to heat their homes with heating oil this winter, compared to under $700 nationally and just over $1,000 in the Northeast for those families using natural gas. Costs to heat with heating oil have increased nearly $1,000 over the last six years, which is part of the reason why 1.4 million families have switched away from home heating oil in the Northeast over the last eight years.