Clinton Releases More LIHEAP Funds to States

President Clinton has ordered the release of an additional $300 million in funds to help low-income households cope with rising heating bills this winter, and announced four steps to tackle the energy shortages and high prices in California, Washington and Oregon.

With this latest action, the federal government has released a total of $856 million in emergency funds from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) since last September.

The biggest state recipient of the $300 million in emergency funds was New York, taking in $41.13 million. It was followed by Pennsylvania ($21.4 million), Illinois ($18.5 million), Michigan ($18.05 million), Ohio ($15.87 million), California ($13.78 million), and Massachusetts ($13.05 million).

The LIHEAP funds are specifically intended to help customers deal with spiraling heating oil and natural gas prices this winter, which the Department of Energy (DOE) projects will rise 29% and 40% respectively, as well as runaway electricity prices.

In his weekly radio address on Dec. 30, Clinton also ordered the managers of all federal facilities in the Pacific Northwest region and California to reduce their consumption of power "to the maximum extent practicable consistent with the health and welfare of [the] employees."

He further noted DOE Secretary Bill Richardson has invoked an emergency order three times requiring generators and marketers to make power available to the ravaged California market. The department indicated the order would be renewed again when it expired on Jan. 5, but it had not done so at press time Friday.

Moreover, Clinton directed the DOE and the Department of Transportation to work cooperatively to prevent the disruption of the heating oil distribution system during frigid weather. Specifically, the Coast Guard was ordered to keep open shipping channels that are prone to freezing so that heating oil barges with critical deliveries can get through to northern ports.

Lastly, he directed the Small Business Administration to work with its lending partners to provide help to small businesses reeling from exorbitant energy costs. For qualified businesses, short- and long-term loans will be made available to cushion the impact of energy costs on their businesses.

Susan Parker

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