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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 31, 1997


President Clinton today directed the Department of Health and Human Services to release $210 million in emergency Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for states, tribes, and territories nationwide.

The total includes funds for all states, as well as special additional relief for eight upper midwest states that have been hard hit by the coldest weather in the nation. Those states are Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The emergency funds released today represent over half of the available emergency funds of $415 million for fiscal year 1997.

"The severity of this year's cold weather, in addition to a one-time price spike in fuel costs, constitutes a threat to low income families, senior citizens and people with disabilities throughout our country," the President said. "These emergency funds will keep the heat on and people safe."

HHS has monitored the temperature conditions in all the states as a measure of the seriousness of this year's cold weather, taking into consideration the number of heating degree days in excess of the 30-year average for the heating season to date. Heating degree days are standard measure of cold temperatures -- the higher the number of heating degree days, the colder the weather.

Throughout the country, heating fuel prices experienced a substantial price increase that has left many low income households without heat only half way through the heating season.

The eight states receiving higher emergency funds have experienced significantly colder temperatures during this heating season than they have on average over the last 30 years. North and South Dakota are receiving funds in addition to the $5 million released two weeks ago, because the two states have experienced the worst rate of cold temperature days in the country.

LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for fuel and weatherization to insulate homes. States determine eligibility and benefit levels. Also as part of LIHEAP, the Congress sets aside emergency funds to help States meet urgent home heating or cooling needs. The President determines when an emergency warrants the release of these funds.