No one should have to freeze in order to afford groceries this winter. The Energy Department estimates that it will cost the average Americans a record $977 just for the fuel to heat their homes this year, which has increased by 22 percent this year, according to the Energy Information Administration, with those people who rely on heating oil as their energy source being even harder hit. The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association in Washington estimates that the average cost to heat with home heating oil for a winter has jumped more than 90 percent since 2003.
Fortunately, there’s a federal program that helps the people who need it most pay their heating bills: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Unfortunately, the Bush White House is proposing to cut the program’s budget by close to $400 million, which would be 19% less than 2007’s budget, which was 29% below 2006’s budget, and would be almost the same level (in real dollars) as it was in 1982.
That’s why Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be introducing legislation when Congress comes back next week, already supported by Vermont Governor James Douglas and Senators Olympia Snowe (R-MN), Susan Collins (R-MN), that would boost funding for LIHEAP by $1 billion. However, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) says LIHEAP is actually under-funded by around $3 billion, and we would need to invest $5 billion to fully fund LIHEAP to serve the 3 million plus Americans needing home heating assistance.
Because of a government focused on protecting corporate interests and reducing taxes on the rich rather than helping citizens, many Americans will be faced this winter with a decision they should never have to make: putting food on the table or paying their heating bill. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Contact your Senators by clicking here, and tell them that no American should have to decide between food and heat!