Letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by jvv13668


									         ~                            THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
                                               OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
                                                                        ONE ASHBURTON PLACE
                                                                    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02108
    MARTHA COAKLEY                                                                                          (617) 727-2200
    ATTORNEY GENERAL                                                                                       www.ago.state.rna.us

                                                                           July 11, 2008

          The Honorable Harry Reid
          Senate Majority Leader
          528 Hart Senate Office Building
          United States Senate
          Washington, DC 20 10
                      I am writing to urge you to pass The Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act,
          S. 3186. This legislation includes $2.53 billion in supplemental funding for FY 2008 for
          the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

                      Estimates indicate that the average cost of              home heating for all home heating
          fuels is expected to rise by at least 15 percent this year to $ 1,1 14, the highest level
          ever. It is projected that the cost of home heating oil will be 42% higher, natural gas will
          be 32% higher, and electricity for home heating will be 6% higher than last winter. In
          light of these ever increasing energy prices and the upcoming winter heating season,
          passage of  this legislation is more critical than ever to ensure that consumers have the
          necessary resources to heat their homes.

              The number of consumers requiring heating assistance is growing and this funding is
          vital to ensure milions of Americans are safe from utility shut offs and empty oil tanks.
          An estimated 5.8 million households received energy assistance in FY 08, an increase of
          3.7 percent over FY 07 and the highest level in 16 years. This is due in large part to the
          fact that the number of families behind in their utility bills is drastically escalating. In
          2008, the total number of families behind on their payments is approaching 15.6 milion,
          an increase of9.5 percent over the comparable period in 2007. These families owe
          almost $5 billion, an increase of $640 million over last year.

                 In addition to this growing need, an increase in funding is also critical in order to
          respond to the severe decline in the program's purchasing power as a result of continued
          high energy prices. Between FY 2003 and FY 2007, the purchasing power of the average
         .LIHEAP grant for heating oil declined from 36.7 percent to 20.8 percent, natural gas

from 58.2 percent to 37.6 percent, propane from 37.7 percent to 22.6 percent, and
electricity from 50.1 percent to 37.1 percent.

         These statistics highlight why passage of                     this legislation now is so critical. In
Massachusetts alone, a state that experiences fiercely cold winters, this supplemental
funding would bring nearly $99 million more in funding to consumers. This money
would go directly to help low-income families, disabled individuals, and senior citizens
living on fixed incomes pay arrearages from last winter's high cost of
                                                                                             home heating, pay
for summer cooling and begin preparing for next winter by pre-buying heating oil and

                         New England recently requested an additional $1 billon in
         The six Governors of

LIHEAP funding for New England. S. 3186 is an important step to achieving additional

            I commend your colleagues, Massachusetts Senators Edward Kennedy and John
Kerry, co-sponsors of   this bil and long-time ardent advocates of additional LIHEAP
funding. I ask that you join them in passing this much needed legislation. That is why I
offer my full support for S. 3186, The Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act, and ask
for this additional funding to ensure that consumers receive the energy assistance they
desperately need.


                                                     ~~ Massachusetts Attorney General

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