Shaheen repeats request for emergency fuel assistance : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Shaheen repeats request for emergency fuel assistance

By Associated Press, 1/25/2000 07:48

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) The average price of heating oil in New Hampshire has jumped nearly 50 cents a gallon in the last week, leading Gov. Jeanne Shaheen to ask the attorney general's office to investigate.

On Monday, Shaheen asked Attorney General Philip McLaughlin to investigate whether price-fixing was behind the big jump, and repeated her plea for federal help in easing the crisis.

According to the Governor's Office of Energy and Community Service, heating oil prices increased from an average $1.22 per gallon on Jan. 18 to $1.71 per gallon Monday. Heating oil cost 77 cents per gallon this time last year.

On Friday, Shaheen wrote to President Clinton and asked him to release an additional $200 million in emergency heating oil assistance for low income people.

She repeated the request Monday, saying the combination of high oil prices, more needy households and frigid weather puts the state in danger of running out of its $8.5 million in fuel assistance funds.

''If the current temperatures and price trends continue, we will see an increasing number of New Hampshire families simply unable to heat their homes,'' Shaheen said.

Shaheen and others also asked Clinton to release some of the nation's strategic oil reserves to increase supplies.

Sally Tibbetts, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., said the Clinton administration rejected the request to release some oil reserves Monday, but has not yet acted on the request for more emergency heating subsidies for low-income families.

Shaheen urged other New England officials to make the same request. U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino already have asked Clinton to release the emergency money. And on Monday, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., requested that the U.S. Department of Energy organize an emergency meeting in New England to investigate the cause of the recent increase in heating oil prices.

Shaheen's office said McLaughlin also was talking with his counterparts in the other New England states about the price jump. Several retailer oil suppliers have reported dramatic spikes in the wholesale price in recent days, her office said.

''This shortage is a created one,'' said Thomas Prescott, of Johnny Prescott and Son Oil Co. in Concord.

''Commodities traders are seeing this cold spell and using it to make a quick dollar. There is no war in the Mideast, no refineries are down, there is no major explosion in the market. It is a normal winter in terms of degree days and a cold snap of six to eight days should not force prices up one nickel,'' he said.

McLaughlin was not available for comment late Monday.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly warned businesses on Saturday to refrain from price-gouging. Not all of the increase may be attributable to supplier costs, he said.

''It's obvious that consumers are rightly concerned about getting a fair deal when they buy heating oil for their homes,'' he said. ''We are actively looking into why these costs are soaring literally overnight.''

Mark Riley, energy program manager at the governor's Office of Energy and Community Service, said the increase can be partially attributed to cutbacks in production by oil-producing nations. Those cutbacks were supposed to end in March, but several countries said last week they plan to continue them for several more months, Riley said.

Current prices are even higher than predicted in November by economists who said New Englanders could expect to pay about $1.20 a gallon this winter.

''A number of dealers I've talked to say they've never seen prices this high,'' Riley said.

The state Department of Safety and U.S. Department of Transportation have temporarily waived the driving time limits for truckers who are delivering propane and heating oil.

The state Department of Environmental Services also gave Sprague Energy in Newington permission to sell higher-sulfur fuel for seven days to increase supplies.

On top of the soaring heating fuel costs, a shortage of kerosene could cause trouble for school bus and truck drivers, since they mix it with diesel fuel to keep the diesel from gelling at low temperatures.

''It's not fun paying the price, but forget that for the moment. I need the supply,'' said Bruce Lyskawa, president of Bruce Transportation Co. in Hudson, which operates 1,200 school buses, including 450 in New Hampshire.

''I've got kids standing on corners, including my own son, every morning. We don't need those kids getting frostbite while they wait for a bus that won't start because of fuel problems.''

Meanwhile, Riley advised consumers to find safe ways to save money and stay warm.

''A lot of folks keep their thermostats up high in the winter, around 68 degrees,'' he said. ''If they're concerned about the prices and the supply, I would suggest turning it down to 60 degrees or so and using blankets or other supplemental heating.''

-- Homer Beanfang (, January 25, 2000


Mabey the Democrats will start talking about an emergency tax cut. Think so?

-- Earl (, January 25, 2000.

I believe that this was because of non
payment of bills.

Diesel rationing hits Zimbabwe

HARARE -- Zimbabwe's filling stations yesterday
began rationing diesel to beat a shortage which
has grounded many buses, trucks and private

Dispatch Online

-- spider (, January 25, 2000.

If Shaheen's AG has got anysense, he'll conduct his investigatiog by logging onlinto TB2000 and lurking for the next few days!


-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.cellrelay.tower), January 25, 2000.

Clinton is having a News Conference now--Just authorized the release of Emergency funds to help pay for heating oil, calling it "An emergency situation". This is going to be interesting, I wouldn't get rid of any of your preps yet and it just might be a good idea to start a list of imports whose prices will be affected first !

-- River (, January 25, 2000.


According to the democrats in power, and the ones who want to succeed them, tax cuts are EVIL! They would hurt you! It would harm the economy (interpretation: their own bank accounts) if they took less of OUR money. Don't even think about wanting a tax cut, besides you couldn't use an extra 20 or 30 bucks take home pay every week, could you? More than half of all your money is such a small price to pay...

I, for one will be quite glad when they're gone. I don't think even talk about a tax cut will ever happen.

-- Powder (, January 25, 2000.

Obviously this is a created shortage...created by just in time inventories that don't even take into account normal weather patterns, such as storms!

-- Mad Monk (, January 25, 2000.

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