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Energy concerns focus of congressman's address

PLATTSBURGH During a visit to the Plattsburgh Noon Rotary Club, Congressman John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, addressed the growing concern of rising energy prices. In his address, McHugh stressed a need for the nation to become less dependent on oil as its main source of energy. The solution, he said, is to set a long-term course of action that makes the nation independent from oil and carbon-based energy. I think a big part of that has to do with conservation, a big part of that has to be technology ... and fast-tracking the development of alternative energy sources, McHugh said. Those looking for the Rosetta Stone of a single source to replace oil would only be putting the country in the same position it is in now, he added. It doesnt exist, and even if it did, I would say Dont adopt it, said McHugh. The reason were in trouble today is we are a single-source, in terms of our energy. When that single resource becomes jeopardized, for whatever reason, were in trouble. In the interim, legislation to provide financial relief to the millions affected by the energy crisis is being actively pursued, said McHugh. Last month, he sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy P. Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, urging that House leaders act on his bill, H.R. 6321, the Home Energy Affordability Tax Relief Act of 2008. If signed into law, the HEATR Act would provide cost relief to Americans. Rising home heating costs have the potential to have a significantly negative impact on consumers this winter, McHugh stated in his letter. For many Americans, including my constituents, the expected increase in prices is simply unaffordable. We must take action now, not once the heating season is already underway. According to conservative estimates provided by McHughs office, many households in the United States will be paying at least $600 more for their home heating costs this winter, an increase which is further burdened by already high gasoline prices. The HEATR Act would provide up to a $500 tax credit for individuals and families facing more than $1,500 in home heating costs during the winter season, with a maximum of one credit per housing unit. Homeowners and renters with home heating expenses below $1,500, would receive one-third the total cost of heating in a tax credit. Individual tax filers earning less than $50,000 would be eligible for the credit as well as joint filers making less than $100,000. The tax credits would phase out above those income levels, at $60,000 and $110,000, respectively. The credit would only be used for fuel costs, which include propane, heating oil, kerosene, wood, and wood pellets, among others. U.S. Sen. Hillary R. Clinton, D-N.Y., also recently introduced a legislative package to the Senate that includes direct financial assistance for low-income and middle-class families, as well as increased funding for efforts to reduce energy costs for low-income families by making their homes more energy efficiency. The package includes a Senate companion to McHughs HEATR Act that would make available additional tax credits and call for full funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and U.S. Department of Energys Weatherization Assistance Program.

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