Feds release another $130 million to help poor pay heating costs

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http://www.fosters.com/news2000aa/feb_00/11/nh0211a.htm Friday, February 11, 2000

Feds release another $130 million to help poor pay heating costs


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP)  The Clinton administration has released an additional $130 million in assistance to help poor people deal with soaring heating oil costs, and took steps to try to increase refinery production and oil deliveries.

About one-third of the money will go to the Northeast, where heating oil prices have been a particular problem because so many homes rely on oil for heating. Thats on top of $45 million in low-income assistance made available a week ago.

Maine received $10.3 million in last weeks allocation and got an additional $1.1 million Thursday.

An estimated 10 million to 14 million homes nationwide rely on oil for heating, with the highest concentration in the Northeast.

"Weve gotten the message. We know theres a crisis in the Northeast. We hear our people are hurting," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said at a news conference.

The average retail price for heating oil nearly doubled over the last year to $1.66 per gallon, up from 86 cents in January 1999, lawmakers were told at a congressional hearing Thursday. In the Northeast, prices have been even higher, soaring to an average of $1.74 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association.

Rep. John Baldacci, D-Maine, said Richardson agreed to his request to visit Maine to discuss the heating oil situation. Richardson will appear at a public forum in Bangor next Wednesday.

Details of the meeting, including the location, will be released soon, Baldaccis office said.

Richardson said the soaring cost of heating oil, diesel and other fuels stem from "a volatile mix of conditions" ranging from high oil prices to low stocks and dealers having problems getting supplies because of ice-clogged terminals and other transportation problems.

Officials also said theyre concerned about refinery output, which was at about 90 percent of capacity. Although refinery runs have increased over the last two weeks, some facilities have normal maintenance scheduled this time of year, which could result in new supply problems, officials said.

In addition to the new funds for low-income assistance, Richardson said a variety of measures were being taken to try to boost heating oil production at Northeast refineries.

These include issuing temporary waivers at some refineries for compliance with clean air laws, urging refiners to defer routine maintenance and lifting waivers on the hours that truckers carrying heating oil may work, he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard was told to give heating oil shipments priority and take other measures to prevent shipping delays. Also, loans were being offered to heating oil dealers who face cash flow problems because sudden price spikes prevent them from honoring existing contracts.

Richardson urged the industry to defer routine maintenance so heating oil production is "at full throttle until ... the crisis has passed."

The secretary said he had received "an earful" from a group of lawmakers who met with him Wednesday to discuss the heating oil problem. "Were dealing with a short term crisis. Weve gotten the message," he said.

There has been growing pressure on the administration to intervene. Many members of Congress from the Northeast want the president to release oil from the emergency government stockpile to try to dampen prices.

But Richardson said the administration remains opposed to using the strategic reserve to affect prices, maintaining that the nearly 600 million barrels in the reserve should be used only to deal with acute supply shortages.

"It is this administrations view the markets should dictate prices and that the markets should flow on their own," Richardson said.

That view got an icy reception at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee earlier Thursday, where Energy and State department officials were called to discuss world oil prices and their effect on heating oil and diesel prices.

"Sitting on the strategic oil reserves like its some kind of ancient artifact is irrational," complained Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn. "If were not going to ever dip into it, maybe we ought to get rid of it."

Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., said the Clinton administration ought to do more "to get the OPEC nations to turn on the spigot and let the market determine what the prices should be."

Stunned a year ago by oil prices that had dipped below $12 a barrel, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rolled back production by 4.3 million barrels a day. Prices soared and edged close to $30 a barrel in recent weeks.

The price on the spot market Thursday was $29.14 a barrel.

Richardson said he was "ramping up" his contacts with key oil producing nations and spoke with oil ministers from Mexico and Venezuela about U.S. concerns over the oil prices and production levels. He planned meetings with oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the coming days.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), February 11, 2000


Nice of Richardson to finally notice the crisis. If anyone in the present administration ever told the truth I'm afraid i'd have the big one. LOL

-- David Whitelaw (Dande53484@aol.com), February 11, 2000.

Our fillup of oil heat yesterday--$ 1.85 a gallon--almost double the average price last year.

Fortunately we have heavily used our backup source of heat and have significantly reduced our usage this year.

This price must be causing a recession in the Northeast since it is sopping up otherwise disposable income. The stats may not show up for a couple of months, but the effect is real.

-- cgbg jr (cgbgjr@webtv.net), February 11, 2000.

--people never learn. I'm sympathetic for the extreme elderly on fixed incomes, after that, no sympathy. Those folks need some SERIOUS thought on reinsulating their walls, ceilings, and adding real windows and doors, not those old leaky things that most houses have. Insulation, dollar for dollar, is a factor of A ZILLION PER CENT better than keeping the same ole same ole and running out of oil for their furnaces. The info and the products are out there, just need to do it one of these summers. The herd is always looking for the easy way out, to shift the blame, anything but admit that they are long term short sighted and they need to take some individual action in a lot of cases, also to maybe add some back up heat, like maybe WOOD, which is still in plentiful supply in new england, especially in the summer. It's like the 70's oil crisis didn't ever happen or something. I'm amazed folks keep on doing the same thing decade after decade, never thinking of the future. Just amazing. See it all over, build on the coast of florida, hurricane wipes ya out, and ya want some tax money to rebuild in the exact same spot. Flood plains another example. Just don't understand this non thinking that goes on, like anyone who lives in new england don't have some sort of "clue" that it gets COLD there occassionally? is winter some sort of "secret"? HELLO NEW ENGLAND, GUESS WHAT, THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE WINTER, AND OIL IS JUST GOING TO KEEP GETTING MORE EXPENSIVE, AND SOME TIMES YOU AIN'T GONNA BE ABLE TO GET IT. TAKE THAT TO THE BANK, THERE'S YOUR CLUE, AND THERE'S YOUR CUE..

Sure always exceptions, but all in all my point has merit, of that I'm sure. Sorry, I don't want any of my tax money going for that, maybe some common sense will sink in that big bro and big biz ain't going to bail you out everytime. Socialism does NOT work. Individual action always works better in the long run. You got elderly parents, well TAKE CARE OF THEM, it's your duty as their kid. If ya gotta skip take out pizzas and giant color tv entertainment centers or some vacation to make your home or their home liveable and safe, then ya gotta do it. Relying on the infrastructure being intact 100% of the time leads to THIS situation right here for an example. there's blame all around for this mess, and it STARTS with the individual "consumer".

Wanna plan for your "retirement'? SWELL,do it, but start with the necessities first, water, food, shelter, security. "Money" don't cut it all the time, sometimes you're gonna need THE REAL STUFF. You can go out right now and wave all the 401k piece of paper crap at a fuel delivery truck you want, ain't gonna impress the driver, nor put heat in your house if there ain't no oil, is it? Same with food or water or anything else. Being unpreppared for outtages is just..plain...LAME. FIRST THINGS FIRST, that's why we got this english language word "first", as in "before the other stuff". BEFORE. Self reliance is just that, the more you are, the less you suffer. Get sucked in by big monopolies and the gubbmint telling you to rely on them, and sometimes you're gonna suffer. Tough kitty, don't steal from me, quit whining, and get cracking, there ARE long term solutions for anyone, any budget, everywhere.

-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), February 11, 2000.

Please address your remarks to the landlords who own the only stock that the poor can RENT--and to the employers who refuse to pay as living wage--to the grocerers who over charge in the inner cities---not to mention all the various cartels that circle around picking the bones of the poor. Just who is living off of whom?

-- everywhere (grrzog@furyhathfire.com), February 11, 2000.

zog - I liked your lecture. It was funny, honest, to-the-point, didn't pull any punches. I agree with you. What we learned from the oil embargo of the 70's was VERY short lived. There were purchases of lots of little cars for a while and as time went up and prices moderated, poof, it was all forgotten.

{LAMENTATIONS 1:12}Please gubmint (proper spelling), please think for me and take care of me from cradle to grave because any minority that demands it, it shall become law.

If the money spent on gambling every year in the U.S. was spent on energy conservation and alternative energy - WE WOULDN'T BE IMPORTING A DROP! We'd never be bent over backwards by OPEC but as Zog said we are short term thinkers (on the average, there's always exceptions)

My sincerest admiration to all that have installed a low emission wood burning stove and I'm absolutely delighted for those who are energy self-sufficient.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley@bwn.net), February 11, 2000.

Did anyone notice that only 1/3rd of the money is going to the North East? The crisis is mainly in the North East, and Central Atlantic states, right? So where is 2/3rds of the money going? To waste, most likely.

I also get irritated when people get into a jam, and expect me, one of their fellow taxpayers, to bail them out. What ever happened to not squandering money, and saving it? What ever happened to living in a home that doesn't leak like a sieve, air and heat wise? Even if you rent, there are things you can do to reduce the bill.

If people weren't so short-sighted, and so used to depending on handouts to bail them out, they wouldn't be so blindsided by minor crises like this one. People should defer some of the luxuries that they have, and get the damn basics squared away first; you know, food, heat, transportation. Then after you get those squared away, you should save as much as you can for harder times. Then after all that, you can have your cable tv, tv dinners, eating out several times a week, junk food, designer clothes, etc. Poor people in this country have it made compared to the poor in most of the rest of the world. Alot of middle-class and semi-rich folk cannot afford/get what poor white trash in the USA have. Sheeze.

-- Bill (billclo@blazenet.net), February 11, 2000.

---everywhere, sorry about your problems. I used to live up there. I moved. It was too expensive for what I was making. I moved to where the living costs are lower and I made more money. While I was living there I made sure I didn't live anywhere that didn't have provisions to heat with wood, at least as a backup. I knew folks who in the 70's lost their homes because they couldn't afford the heating oil increases then, it jumped radically. whole businesses left, went overseas, too, they couldn't compete with our short sighted big biz approach to using slave labor. The people had no backups, they counted 100% on that job being there, to always making more money, and for prices to fall. real world don't always work like that.

There's a lot you can do. One, be self employed, this is the best place in the world to do that. Two, stop trying to struggle to live in an area that has artificially high cost of living, ie, move away from yuppieville if you can. Three, lower your initial expectations on where and how and WHY you are living beyond inertia.

It sounds cruel in a way what I said, but the individual is ultimately responsible. create your own job, you'll do better than minimum wage, if you try hard and are smart. If you feel you are trapped, cash out, sell everything you got down to what you can haul in your vehicle, and move some place where you will be happier. If all you can do is minimum wage, fine, move to some place where a minimum wage job income will take you further, and make sure it's someplace where you can have a whopper garden. You can cut your heating bills, gasoline, food,utility bills and rent considerably by just moving and making some lifestyle changes.

And no, I have no patience with the fatcats either, and it's hard to fight them, the best an individual can do is to ignore their influence as much as possible by lifestyle changes. Once you are in a position to cover your basic necessities of water, food, shelter, and security, you are in a much better position to deal with other issues. And believe me, I ain't rich by a long shot, in fact I bet I'm one of the poorer finacially speaking posters here, but I arranged my life so that I got the big four covered, so I'm a-thinking just about anyone can, just takes the will. I know this sounds simple, it isn't, but I really can't explain it better. When we moved last spring we had no place to go, we just split. we put our surplus stuff we really wanted to keep-our prep stuff mostly-in storage and then just hit it. Things have a way of working out, that's all I can really say. We live in a small RV, it's tiny, but we own it. I swap labor for rent, I do some other work for cash, that's it at present, but tell ya whut, I got water, food, shelter and security covered better now then living in town, paying a note, etc. So don't get mad at me, I'm actually trying to show that it can be done, and cheaply, too. I post enough about practical cheapo living advice, have been for more than three years now on the net, so you ain't hearing some rich fatcat talking down to the peons, I'm a fully accredited member of the "Man Euell L. Abor" crowd, my collar is blue, and my portfolio consists of prep gear.

I was in a union once, late 60's, the UAW. I'd be the only one saying "uhh-hey guys, don't you think maybe we should cool it on this strike b.s., looks to me like these japanese cars here are gonna start taking our jobs and stuff, maybe we ought to think this through some more". anyway, I got yelled at and laughed at because "nobody was ever gonna buy no rinky dink 4 cylinder jap car". Well, guess we saw what happened there, huh? Management wouldn't get away with the crap they do if NO ONE WORKED FOR THE BASTIDS. Ta heck with going on strike, quit, start your own company or business, do something else, just straight hand wringin won't cut it. There's a time and place for really letting loose and complaining, another time to be ACTIVE and DO something about it.

I like BOTH.

-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), February 11, 2000.

Zog---I admire your courage! The reaction to you was not my own story, but one I see. For many people, what you did is exactly what they should be doing. I try to imagine the huge housing projects and those people evacuating. Greyhound therapy it is called in some circles. Or the folks in the southern states moving up to where the jobs are--or are suppose to be. I think these days that the real migration that needs to happen is in their souls and in skill building. The question is how to make it happen. And somebody should simply slap the @#$# out of the people who live off the poor. Training that leads to no where, jobs that disintegrate with a penny price change. It is discusting. Equally discusting are the hoards of drug/alcohol dealers and addicted people refusing treatment and waving their kids needs around as a way of getting $$$ from public. Time to build homes for these kids and stop this at the cradle.

-- everywhere (grrzog@furryhathfire.com), February 11, 2000.

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