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Sanders seeks $1 billion for fuel help

As rising fuel-oil prices add stress to households on a fixed budget, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Nov. 26 he will introduce legislation when Congress reconvenes next week to provide $1 billion in emergency home heating assistance. Sanders called for the $1 billion boost in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Meanwhile, President Bush has asked Congress to cut $379 million from the fuel-welfare program. In recent years, the number of households receiving home heating assistance increased by 26 percent from 4.6 million in 2003 to about 5.8 million in 2007. Vermont, among the nations grayest states, has a growing population of senior citizens on fixed incomes. As of 2003, over 78,000 seniors over the age of 65 lived in the state. Ironically, Vermonters may be sitting atop their own petroleum reserves. According to news reports, oil and gas are believed to lie beneath the Eastern Overthrust Belt, a geologic formation that includes Snake Mountain, Fuller Mountain, Buck Mountain, and Mt. Philo. On Nov. 20 Sanders joined other senators from New England, and other regions of the country, urgingPresident Bush to release $20 million left in a contingency fund to help people with low incomes afford to heat their homes.

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