Bipartisan congressional group urges presidential action on home
heating oil crisis
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Faced with rising oil prices, a bipartisan group of
more than one hundred members of Congress is urging President Clinton and members a number of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees to take immediate action to address this winter's expected energy crisis.
In a letter to Clinton, the group, led by Reps. Joseph Moakley, D-Massachusetts, and Jack Quinn, R-New York, requested immediate action to fight expected high winter oil prices, including: "demanding that OPEC and other major foreign suppliers increase their production of both crude
oil and home heating oil exported to the United States."
The group also asked Clinton to "immediately release $400 million in emergency Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding," and "swap crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with the oil industry."
In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the interior, labor and
energy subcommittees, the group urged members to act quickly to assuage the
winter's projected energy crisis "which could have a disastrous impact on the
American people -- especially the elderly, working families, family farmers,
small businesses, the disabled, and the poor."
The group urged increases in the interior, labor, health and human services, education, and energy and water spending bills for fiscal year 2001 "to address critical, emergency needs," and to act quickly.
Speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference, Moakley explained, "My colleagues and I are calling for a comprehensive home heating oil policy to help people stay warm this winter. We need to boost dwindling heating oil supplies as well as help low income working families pay their heating bills."
"If not, far too many families will be forced, once again, to make the horrible
choice between heating and eating. And no one should have to make that
choice," Moakley said.
Quinn explained that the group is urging the president to almost immediately release emergency funding that was earmarked for this year -- between $400 million and $500 million -- saying. "...It's the middle of September, we're looking at heating costs going up in the next month or two for certain, and we want to make sure that the people who used it last year can use it again."
The New England Congressional Caucus has scheduled a Wednesday meeting
with Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to discuss home heating oil and natural
gas prices. The caucus is a bipartisan group comprised of the 23 members of the
House of Representatives from the six New England states.