Rep. Capuano Urges Administration to be More Responsive in Addressing Home Heating Oil Crisis

February 15, 2000 -- Today U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D, MA) called on the Department of Energy and the Clinton Administration to be more responsive in dealing with the home heating oil crisis that is impacting many New England residents.

"Last week, the Administration released $130 million in LIHEAP funding, but only an additional $3.6 million was earmarked for Massachusetts. This additional funding certainly helps but it is not enough and it was not sensibly distributed. The $130 million was distributed to all 50 states, including Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Many regions of the country, particularly the Northeast, have experienced severe winter weather, with temperatures well below zero. A doubling of home heating oil prices accompanied this cold snap, leaving many families struggling to heat their homes. The money should have gone to those states that were directly impacted by this crisis," stated Rep. Mike Capuano.

While Massachusetts received only $3.6 million during this second round of funding, Florida received over $1.1 million, Mississippi received over $600,000 and Louisiana received over $700,000.

"When extreme weather conditions or natural disasters impact these states, we should provide as much federal assistance as possible. However, it simply does not make sense to distribute emergency home heating funds to regions of the country not suffering from cold snaps. This money is badly needed in the Northeast and in other portions of the country. The price of home heating oil skyrocketed and temperatures fell, causing many to choose between putting food on the table and turning up the thermostat. Not only was the Administration slow to act in releasing LIHEAP funds to help ease this burden, they did not target the funding to needy communities," Rep. Capuano continued.

At a press conference in Washington, D.C. today Rep. Capuano joined other members of Congress in calling on immediate White House action to address this home heating oil crisis. Rep. Capuano called on the Administration to release part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, set up a permanent home heating oil reserve in the Northeast and persuade OPEC to increase its oil production.

"We must find ways to address these extreme price fluctuations so that the next time the Northeast experiences a severe cold snap, our residents have the resources they need. We cannot afford to wait until the next time the mercury dips below zero," stated Rep. Capuano.

On Wednesday, Department of Energy Secretary Richardson will host a home heating oil summit in Boston. Rep. Capuano is unable to attend the summit because the House of Representatives is in session and votes are scheduled.