Senate Conservatives Vote Against Low-Income Energy Assistance, Push Oil Drilling Myth

Yesterday, Senate conservatives voted down bipartisan legislation that would have “provided an additional $2.5 billion in funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP),” a federal program “that helps low- income families pay their cooling and heating bills.”

Arguing that “the chamber should focus on crafting a comprehensive plan to address high energy costs before taking up specific pieces of the debate,” conservatives insisted that drilling for more “gas and oil” would do more to help struggling families pay for heating oil.

Watch a compilation video of conservative senators pushing the false myth that drilling will help low-income families pay their heating bills:

But drilling for oil will do nothing to “alleviate and bring down those natural gas prices for us.” As the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has explained, “access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” But because United States demand for oil far outstrips production — we consume 25 percent of the world’s supply but have two percent of the proven reserves — further exploitation of domestic resources will not have a long-term impact either. After 2030, the EIA found, “any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

This winter, the “average cost of heating a home…will total about $1,114 – 14.6 percent more than last year,” forcing “low-income families [to] spend on average about 15 percent of their income on home energy bills.” Unfortunately, rather than voting for substantive relief, conservatives continue to propagate false myths for political purposes.


Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): There’s no problem at all with regard to the LIHEAP or low-income energy proposal that we already have in law and already have $100 million surplus to. So this is a sham, and it was a shame today to see that sham on the floor of the senate when we have it within our own power to develop our own resources to bring down the price of gas so that the poor will not be spending up to 50% of their income on gas just to stay alive. This is a joke.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): I think it’s very interesting. When they talk about LIHEAP and they talk about doing something about the — supplying gas to heat homes in the northeast. A lot — instead of subsidizing, let’s just open up the supply line, let’s start producing gas and oil and bring the price down so we don’t have to subsidize it. It’s a very simple thing. So I’m going to vote ‘no’ on it. I oppose it. in fact, I don’t think I’ll even stay here for that vote.

Sen. George Voinovich (R-GA): So instead, those demanding more LIHEAP should also be required to vote on increasing our energy supply or at least give the senate an up-or-down vote on lifting the ban on exploration of the outer continental shelf. I’m going to insist on that. I’m telling everybody back home, I will vote for more LIHEAP, but I want a vote in the United States Senate on whether or not we’re going to remove the moratorium on our going to the outer continental shelf and to some other places that we have natural gas deposits that could help alleviate and create a larger supply so that we’ll have impact lowering those natural gas prices for us.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH): So this bill that we’re debating right now. This energy bill has to be completed before we move on to Sen. Saunder’s bill. In the debate of this bill we should take up a LIHEAP amendment which will be offered, I suspect, from our side of the aisle, probably by Sen Sununu or myself. At the same time we should take up these other ideas of expanding the use of our reserves as a nation on the outer continental shelf in the oil shale reserves, using nuclear power. Expanding these reserves. Why? Because that will cause the price of oil to come down.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): I ask my colleagues to vote against it on the her rids and because we need — on the merits and because we need to continue to talk about how to produce more energy for America and keeping American wealth at home and not continuing to transmit $700 billion a year of our wealth to nations around the world often who are hostile to our national security interests.