Do you know what LIHEAP is? LIHEAP stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Simply put, LIHEAP provides financial assistance to low income households having trouble paying their home energy bills. Never has this type of program been more important than in these trying economic times.
That is why, as this year’s chairman of AGA, I’m so honored to be involved in the National Fuel Fund Network’s “Action Day” for LIHEAP, which is held annually in February and this year observes its 25th anniversary. The mission of the National Fuel Fund Network (NFFN) is as simple as it is important – to bring together utilities and non profits to explain to our nation’s leaders why they MUST maintain the highest possible levels of funding for LIHEAP.
On February 11, NFFN volunteers from around the country – volunteers who have come to the nation’s capital to speak on behalf of millions of Americans who can’t speak for themselves – will once again take this message to those leaders. LIHEAP funding must be maintained at the highest level possible so that hard-working but vulnerable families DO NOT have to choose between heating and eating, or between heating or buying medicine, or between keeping their homes WARM and simply keeping their homes.
The 110th Congress appropriated, and President Bush signed into law, a record $5.1 billion for LIHEAP for fiscal year 2009, which will help an additional 7 million households pay their monthly energy bills. President Obama has said that he will increase that funding (section under protect and honor seniors). Those are great victories and a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved. But we can’t stop because in recent years, due to funding shortages, only about 15 percent of those eligible for LIHEAP received assistance. Given our current economic challenges that percentage is very likely to get worse.
LIHEAP is an especially important issue to me and I will continue to make support for it among my highest priorities. I urge you to learn more about LIHEAP and more about what you can do on Action Day to help. Local activities include press conferences, Congressional call-ins, petition drives and local or state government proclamations. Visit this link to find out what you can do in your area. You’ll be glad you did.