October 19, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — In anticipation of sharply higher heating prices this winter, Attorney General Jay Nixon has sent a letter calling on Congress to help Missourians by increasing funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
LIHEAP, a federally funded program that assists low-income households in meeting their energy bills, operates in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The program offers bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and assistance in weatherization and energy-related home repairs.
"Low-income residents of Missouri and other states face severe hardships this winter," Nixon wrote. "The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration predicts that natural gas costs for the Midwest will be 61 percent higher this winter than last winter. Others predict even more dramatic cost increases."
On Sept. 28, a bi-partisan group of governors from 27 states sent a similar letter to Congress and President George W. Bush requesting $1.276 billion in emergency LIHEAP funds. Missouri was not among the states that joined in the request.
"The absence of Missouri from (the governors') letter should not suggest that Missourians do not need assistance," Nixon said. "Covering the dramatic increases in natural gas and heating oil prices will pose an immense challenge to many as winter arrives, as the bi-partisan governors' letter observes."
In his role as Missouri's consumer advocate, Nixon said he would continue to monitor the marketing practices of energy providers. He said, however, that safeguards such as LIHEAP need to be in place and adequately funded to alleviate hardship by Missourians who will not be able to afford ballooning bills for electricity, natural gas or propane.
"On behalf of Missouri consumers, I therefore urge you to increase significantly LIHEAP funding for Fiscal Year 2006," Nixon said in his letter to Congress. "Such additional funding would go a long way towards helping the neediest families allay financial crisis and keep warm this winter."