The three largest gas utilities in western Pennsylvania(Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Equitable Gas and Peoples Gas) urgedcustomers to press Congress to restore full funding to the LowIncome Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The three gascompanies began a letter writing campaign on behalf of customers,consumer groups and social service agencies. Elimination of LIHEAPwould impact thousands of customers in Pennsylvania, the utilitiessaid. Nearly 350,000 Pennsylvania families benefit from theprogram. The LIHEAP grant is applied directly to heating bills.Eligibility is based on family income and the number of householdmembers. LIHEAP, a federally-funded program, has been around fortwo decades, but its future was thrown into doubt last month whenthe House Appropriations Committee voted to eliminate the programin fiscal 1999, saving $1.1 billion. President Clinton hadrequested $1.4 billion for LIHEAP in his 1999 budget. Members ofthe U.S. House of Representatives will have another opportunity toconsider LIHEAP funding later this month.

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