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

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

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

The LIHEAP funds are specifically intended to help customersdeal 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 themanagers of all federal facilities in the Pacific Northwest regionand California to reduce their consumption of power “to the maximumextent practicable consistent with the health and welfare of [the]employees.”

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

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

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

Susan Parker

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