St. Paul, MN -- On Tuesday, the Minnesota House voted to suspend the rules and unanimously pass a $20 million appropriation for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In response to an unusually cold winter made worse by a propane shortage that caused a dramatic increase in heating costs, Governor Dayton expanded the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program to include an addition 120,000 households, and increased the maximum crisis payment per applicant from $500 to $1000. Due to these changes, and an overall increase in demand, the program was expected to run out of funding on March 1, 2014.
Representative Pat Garofalo, the GOP Lead on the Energy Policy Committee, issued the following statement in response to the bill's passage:
"This bill will give peace of mind to the thousands of Minnesota families who rely on this program to heat their homes during this unusually harsh winter. However, this is a short-term fix to a long-term problem of our own making. By building widely-supported pipeline projects like Keystone XL, we can alleviate much of the oil tanker traffic on our rail lines that caused key delays on emergency propane shipments during the propane shortage last month.
"Unfortunately President Obama and Democrats have stood in the way of these projects, content to let the interests of the radical environmental left trump those of Minnesota families who rely on propane to heat their homes.
"We can prevent another propane crisis from happening in Minnesota, but we must act now. I urge my DFL colleagues to call on President Obama during his Wednesday visit to approve these common-sense projects and help move Minnesota's energy situation forward, and prevent Minnesota families from enduring the stress and hardship of another winter propane shortage."