PDF _ RL31865 - The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Program and Funding
21-Oct-2008; Libby Perl; 25 p.

Update: Previous releases:
September 18, 2008
January 17, 2008
October 11, 2007
February 27, 2007 (/NLE/CRSreports/07March/RL31865.pdf)
September 26, 2006 (/NLE/CRSreports/06Aug/RL31865.pdf)

Abstract: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), established in 1981 (P.L. 97-35), is a block grant program under which the federal government makes annual grants to states, territories, and tribes to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. The LIHEAP statute authorizes two types of funds: regular funds, which are allocated to all states using a statutory formula, and contingency funds, which are allocated to one or more states at the discretion of the Administration.

In the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161), Congress appropriated $1.98 billion in regular LIHEAP funds, the same amount that was allocated for regular funds in FY2007. For contingency funds, Congress appropriated approximately $590 million in FY2008. This amount exceeds the FY2007 appropriation of $181 million by more than $400 million. On February 5, 2008, the President released his FY2009 budget in which he requested a total of $2 billion for LIHEAP, $1.7 billion in regular funds, and $300 million in contingency funds. The budget proposal would provide $570 million less for LIHEAP than was provided in FY2008.

The Administration has released FY2008 contingency funds on three occasions. First, on January 16, 2008, it released $450 million to all states, tribes, and territories. Of the amount distributed, $150 million was allocated to all grantees according to their percentage allocation under the LIHEAP formula, $50 million was allocated to 11 states based on the percentage of low-income households that use heating oil, and the remaining $250 million was distributed to 26 states on the basis of both the percentage of low-income households that use heating oil, natural gas, or propane for heat, and on the average temperature between November 1, 2006, and March 1, 2007. The second distribution occurred on February 22, 2008, when the Administration released $40 million to Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

States received funds if at least 20% of their low-income households use heating oil as their primary heating fuel. Finally, on September 17, 2008, nearly $121 million in contingency funds was distributed to all states, tribes, and territories. Of the total, $96 million was distributed to all grantees according to their percentage allocations under the LIHEAP formula, while the remainder was distributed to seven states where at least 30% of low-income households use heating oil: Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In the 110th Congress, several bills have been introduced that would appropriate additional funds for LIHEAP. These include identical bills introduced in the Senate and the House entitled the Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act (S. 3186 and H.R. 6427). Both bills would appropriate additional funds to LIHEAP for FY2008: $1.265 billion for regular funds and $1.265 billion for contingency funds. In addition, a number of bills have been introduced that would provide additional funds for LIHEAP through various means, including penalties collected from energy suppliers and profits from carbon allowance trading.

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Topics: Energy, Legislative, Population

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