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Senator Snowe Calls LIHEAP Funding “Life or Death” Matter 

Senator Olympia Snowe met with Mainers Thursday impacted by cuts to federal heating funds.She’s been a supporter of the LIHEAP program since it was founded in 1980.The Senator visited Penquis in Bangor, which serves low and moderate income residents.This year, Maine is getting about 18-million dollars less in LIHEAP funding.Penquis officials say while it may be a mild winter, demand is still high, with fuel costs rising.Jenn Josiah We had 80-thousand dollars and we got rid of that in three days,” said Jennifer Josiah, Director of Housing and Management Services.Senator Snowe is working with colleagues from Vermont and Rhode Island to get more money.”It will be a challenge without question but I think that we’re going to be in the midst of the winter, we’re going to have the onset of some very cold days upon us and I think that’s going to underscore the value of this program and the darned necessity it represents to so many people who depend upon this program,” she said.Snowe says the federal government should come up with a plan to reduce Maine’s dependency on oil heat.”Maine’s 70 percent dependent on oil we see what’s happening in the middle east, it has only aggravated that price increase as we’re experiencing currently,” she said.Last year’s average LIHEAP payment was eight hundred and thirty dollars.This year, it’s a little over three hundred.”It’s a life and death matter that is the bottom line,” she said.