In a united effort, a group of Democratic senators, led by Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, is urging President Joe Biden to take immediate action in response to the impending winter and the surge in energy costs. Their call for more funding for fuel assistance facilitated through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), aims to provide relief to American households facing the challenges of soaring energy prices.
The senators emphasize the urgency of the situation, citing the projection of winter heating prices remaining persistently high. The applications for fuel assistance have surged significantly, necessitating an immediate response to help families cope with the financial burden of energy bills.
The demand for LIHEAP has surged due to global factors, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and inflationary pressures. The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association reported an alarming increase of up to 20% in LIHEAP applications across states.
The senators stress that with limited funding, states will be forced to make tough decisions about the level of assistance they can provide and the number of people they can serve.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, prominent senators including Angus King, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ed Markey have signed the letter, endorsing the call for supplemental LIHEAP funding in the FY24 appropriations request.
The LIHEAP program offers assistance to homeowners earning 60% of the state median income for fuel, electricity, and weatherization upgrades.
In response to the escalating energy costs, the Biden administration and Congress provided $2 billion in emergency supplemental LIHEAP funding in the previous fiscal year, reaching a total of $6.1 billion.
The challenge of record-high inflation, supply chain disruptions, and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine have collectively strained global energy markets, resulting in higher prices for home heating oil and natural gas.
While households using natural gas can expect a slight decrease in costs this winter, those reliant on oil will experience slightly increased prices as global petroleum inventories shrink. Homes heating with oil are projected to spend an average of $1,850 for heat this winter, reflecting a 6% increase from the previous year.
As winter approaches, this bipartisan endeavor highlights the critical need for support in managing energy expenses and ensuring that American families can stay warm during the colder months.