Bush Energy Plan Endorses Schumer, Maloney Emergency Home Heating Assistance Plan

May 17, 2001
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) praised President Bush for recommending in his energy package that the Department of Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services bolster LIHEAP funding by using a portion of oil and gas royalty payments. Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Maloney introduced legislation to this effect earlier this spring. Mrs. Maloney's bill in the House "To amend the Mineral Leasing Act to make available for the low-income home energy assistance program 5 percent of moneys received by the United States from onshore Federal oil and gas development," was introduced on March 8, 2001.

"The Bush Energy Plan has its problems, but this is not one of them," said Schumer. "Millions of families are struggling to heat their homes and this legislation would help ensure they don't spend another winter choosing between heating and eating."

"I couldn't agree more with President Bush's recommendation for legislation to bolster LIHEAP funding through oil and gas royalties, that's why I introduced the legislation two months ago," Maloney said today. "The bill Senator Schumer and I introduced turns a big oil scandal into a big time win for seniors and families. When I discovered that the oil industry was cheating taxpayers out of billions of dollars for oil taken from Federal lands I took action immediately with hearings and investigations. Now that the leaders of the oil industry pay a fair price for the oil they extract from federal lands, those dollars should go directly to work for low-income seniors and families struggling with sky-high heating bills."

The LIHEAP program currently provides thousands of New Yorkers and 3.4 million Americans nationwide with critical assistance to help them heat their homes during the winter. The program served 354,622 residents in New York City, 26,914 residents on Long Island and 12,080 residents in Westchester last year, and while this year's figures are not yet available, overall participation in the program is expected to increase 21% statewide. Skyrocketing energy prices are the heart of the problem - it is estimated, for example, that natural gas customers will pay 40% more in energy costs than they did last Winter and Spring.

Schumer and Maloney's legislation would use revenues from onshore oil and natural gas leases on Federal lands to directly increase funding for the LIHEAP program. Under the current setup, half of the revenues generated from the leases currently go to states, 40% go to a reclamation fund and 10% go to a general fund. Under the Schumer-Maloney bill, 50% of the general fund - 5% of all of the revenue - would go directly to LIHEAP, resulting in an estimated $75 to $125 million in additional funding every year. Out of this new funding, an estimated $9 to $15 million would go directly to New York City.

Schumer and Maloney's legislation has been endorsed by a host of organizations, including the Community Service Society of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the Children's Aid Society, the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Keyspan, Consolidated Edison, the National Community Action Foundation and the Joint Public Affairs Committee for Older Adults.