INTRODUCTION OF THE ENERGY ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 156, No. 15
(Extensions of Remarks - February 02, 2010)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E122]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    INTRODUCTION OF THE ENERGY ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                         HON. EDWARD J. MARKEY

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 2, 2010

  Mr. MARKEY of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, the Low-Income Home 
Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a vital safety net for 
millions of Americans. This winter, a perfect storm of economic 
hardship, rising heating oil prices, and increased demand for home 
energy assistance is leading to a serious home energy crisis for 
millions of Americans. The Energy Assistance for American Families Act 
that I am introducing today would increase the level of funding for 
LIHEAP and expand its availability in order to protect millions of 
American families who are facing difficult choices this winter between 
paying for food or paying for fuel.
  The Energy Assistance for American Families Act would increase the 
authorized funding level for LIHEAP to $7.6 billion per year for fiscal 
years 2011 to 2014, an increase of $2.5 billion over the last 
authorized level, enacted in 2005. The Energy Assistance for American 
Families Act would also extend the expanded eligibility levels that 
were included in the omnibus appropriations bills for fiscal years 2009 
and 2010--giving states the option of helping families with incomes up 
to 75 percent of the State Median Income level.
  According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association 
(NEADA), states assisted 8.3 million households last year--more than a 
33 percent increase in the number of households served from the 
previous year. In my home state of Massachusetts, LIHEAP funding helped 
186,160 Massachusetts families in 2009, according to the Campaign for 
Home Energy Assistance.
  However, overall demand for LIHEAP aid is rising this year, in large 
part due to the economic downturn. NEADA estimates that 10 million 
households may apply for assistance this year. Increasing the LIHEAP 
funding level will allow states to meet this increased demand and to 
continue to provide meaningful aid.
  Energy prices are also on the rise--average household expenditures on 
heating oil this winter are expected to increase to $1,911 from $1,864 
last winter, according to the Department of Energy. The Energy 
Assistance for American Families Act will allow grants to continue to 
cover a significant portion of home heating bills.
  Our economy may finally be heating up, but the effects of a 
recession, periods of cold weather, and rising energy prices are still 
having a chilling effect on millions of American families. Expanding 
LIHEAP's funding and availability is absolutely essential to help 
families who are struggling this winter.

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