Release follows Senators’ call for immediate distribution of remaining funds

Washington, DC – Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren today praised the release of more than $18 million in additional heating assistance funding for Massachusetts this winter. The release today of an additional $18.3 million by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) brings Massachusetts’ total heating assistance funding to roughly $140 million this year. Senators Markey and Warren wrote to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last Thursday requesting that these remaining LIHEAP funds be released immediately.

“This additional heating assistance funding will be a lifeline for Massachusetts families facing a home heating crisis this winter,” said Senator Markey. “With energy prices in Massachusetts spiking and temperatures dropping, these funds will help ensure that no one is left out in the cold this winter. I applaud President Obama and Secretary Sebelius for taking swift action to deliver this critical additional funding to Massachusetts families as soon as possible.”

“I’m very glad the administration responded to calls for LIHEAP funding to be released so that families can heat their homes and stay safe,” said Senator Warren. “With Massachusetts and other states experiencing extremely cold weather, this emergency action is critical to protect families and make sure they have access to the heating assistance they need.”

HHS is releasing a total of nearly $454 million in additional LIHEAP assistance to all states today. This release follows recent passage of the omnibus spending bill for the current year that included more funding for this program.

While the EIA had projected that families using heating oil would spend roughly the same amount this winter compared with last year, residential heating oil prices in Massachusetts have increased nearly 25 cents a gallon – or roughly six percent – since the end of October. According to EIA, residential propane prices in Massachusetts have risen 45 cents a gallon – or 15 percent –during that same time, also far outpacing EIA’s projections. Natural gas prices in New England have also spiked recently to nearly ten times the benchmark price.