Fiscal Cliff Threatens Federal Aid for Home Heating
If the White House and Congress fail to reach a budget deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will be slashed by 10%, affecting 6.9 million households that rely on federal assistance to pay for heating bills.
Ninety percent of the $3.47 billion in home energy assistance the federal government allocated to the states for fiscal year 2013 has already been delivered, but the remaining 10 percent (nearly $350 million) hinges on whether Washington can reach a budget deal.
Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association claimed lawmakers in the past “would find a way to attach emergency spending for heating aid onto other bills, but that just won't happen in this Congress.”
Six percent of U.S. households, most of which are in New England, use oil heat in the winter and will be most threatened and “especially hard hit this winter, thanks to a combination of high oil prices, forecasts of a harsh winter and the possible cut in federal funds.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nearly “68 percent of households in Maine” and “half the homes in New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut” heat with oil.