Legislation, Top Story

Budget Ax Targets Heating Aid

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: April 10th, 2013

Supporters of a program that helps millions of low-income households pay their energy bills are expressing dismay at the Obama administration’s plans to slash its funding.

Marsha Belcher of NFFN (second from left) and other LIHEAP supporters met with Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., (third from left) during LIHEAP Action Day. (Photo By: NFFN)

Marsha Belcher of NFFN (second from left) and other LIHEAP supporters met with Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., (third from left) during LIHEAP Action Day. (Photo By: NFFN)

Spending on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program would be reduced to $2.97 billion in the fiscal 2014 spending package that President Obama unveiled April 10.

It’s the latest reduction in LIHEAP funding, which has remained set at $3.4 billion since fiscal 2012. That’s down from $5.1 billion in fiscal 2010.

The news came as a huge disappointment at a time when more than 100 program advocates were taking part in the annual LIHEAP Action Day in the nation’s capital.

“With poverty increasing across the nation and millions of people still struggling to recover from the recent economic disaster, reducing funding to this vital program is unthinkable,” said Marsha Belcher, board chair of the National Fuel Funds Network.

NRECA is a member of the group.

NFFN had been seeking at least $4.7 billion for LIHEAP in the new fiscal year and had launched a social media blitz to get its message out.

“Over the last three years, LIHEAP funding is down 37 percent. This reduction is leaving millions of households without aid to help them cope with their home energy costs,” Belcher said. She promised that the president’s budget would not be the final word on the subject.

“We will continue our vigorous advocacy for LIHEAP,” Belcher said, “and will continue to work to keep funding for this program at a level where it can provide important assistance year round.”

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