Carper and Biden Call for Release of Energy Assistance Funds

LIHEAP Money Would Help Low-Income and Elderly Stay Cool During Heat Wave

WASHINGTON (July 26, 2005) – As temperatures today threatened to be the warmest of the year so far, Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper joined 23 other senators in urging the Bush administration to release $47.6 million in already-appropriated funds to help states provide residents with cooling assistance. Today, the Senate coalition sent a letter to the White House regarding the release of emergency Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding. The letter stated that high energy costs and the danger faced by low-income residents during a sustained heat wave warranted the release of the funds. The Delaware LIHEAP program administers a cooling assistance program but because of budget constraints has had to limit the program to only elderly residents while excluding other low-income families. Delaware purchases room air conditioners for elderly individuals who do not have air conditioning and also pays up to $200 in utility bills to help cover the high cost of summer utility bills. The full text of the letter follows: July 25, 2005 The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Bush: We urge you to immediately release the remaining $47.6 million in emergency Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding provided in the fiscal year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The high energy costs facing low-income households and the heat wave experienced throughout the Northeast and Midwest warrants the release of these funds. The first official week of summer brought a heat wave with temperatures climbing into the 90s across states in the Northeast and Midwest. In Michigan, Wisconsin and Vermont, the National Weather Service said June was the second hottest on record in the state. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “New York State had its warmest June on record, with 12 other states from Minnesota to Maine ranking much above normal for the month.” Temperatures reaching above 90 degrees in Cleveland prompted city officials to test a new system to warn seniors to keep cool. An automated telephone system dialed the homes of more than 57,000 residents 65 and older, who are especially susceptible to the heat. In Boston, temperatures at the end of June reached a high of 95 degrees — the hottest the city has been since August 18, 2002. For the July, cooling degree days for the region remained significantly higher than normal. Many low-income consumers entered this summer facing high energy debt due to the winter’s unaffordable energy prices and cold weather. The heat wave that affected the Northeast and Midwest states in June, and the current heat wave affecting the nation, is adding to these households’ energy burdens, especially low-income seniors, as they must run air-conditioning to remain cool and safe. For example, on Tuesday, July 19th, ISO New England recorded the highest electricity usage in New England history. We believe the cooling crisis facing low-income Americans warrants the immediate release of emergency LIHEAP assistance. Thank you for your attention to this important request. Sincerely, Sen. Debbie Stabenow Sen. Olympia Snowe Sen. Jack Reed Sen. Arlen Specter Sen. Tom Harkin Sen. Ted Kennedy Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Carl Levin Sen. Joe Biden Sen. John Kerry Sen. Barack Obama Sen. James Jeffords Sen. Lincoln Chafee Sen. Evan Bayh Sen. Jon Corzine Sen. Frank Lautenberg Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Sen. Charles Schumer Sen. Dick Durbin Sen. Mike DeWine Sen. Tom Carper Sen. Paul Sarbanes Sen. Joe Lieberman Sen. Chris Dodd Sen. Mark Dayton