Feds look to boost spending

August 1, 2003 By    

The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill for 2004 with $1.8 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, an increase of $111 million over 2003 and $100 million above the administration’s budget request.

The total includes a $100 million emergency fund. The Senate Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, voted to up the funding to $2 billion but with no emergency fund. The fund has caused controversy in recent years as the administration declined to release it all despite urging from Congress.

The Senate bill would put $27.5 million of the LIHEAP money into a leveraging incentive fund that states would have to match to get a share. The Senate separately approved a provision in its Energy Policy Act that would increase LIHEAP authorization to $3.4 billion a year. But since Congress hasn’t given the bill final approval, appropriations didn’t consider it.

The House approved another 2004 appropriations bill with $270 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Grants, a $2 million increase.

Meanwhile, the administration offered Congress a proposal to reauthorize the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act with a provision to give more assistance to new motor carriers. New entrants get help complying with safety rules under a federal-state collaboration called the New Entrant Program. The proposal would allow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to hire more safety auditors.

FMCSA also asked Congress for more money for states to improve control over commercial drivers licenses and for authority to suspend and revoke licenses of for-hire motor carriers who engage in a pattern of non-compliance or concealing non-compliance of federal regs. It proposes $25 million for Commercial Vehicle Information Systems & Networks grants to states to provide safety information and check driver credentials.

Briefly speaking

  • Domestic production up

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2002 Petroleum Supply report, domestic production of propane propylene grew from an average of 817,000 barrels per day in 1986 to 1.12 million barrels in 2000. Production fell to 1.09 million barrels in 2001, but rebounded to 1.12 million barrels last year. Imports also grew from an average 110,000 barrels per day in
1986 to 161,000 in 2001.

  • Appliance energy labeling

The Federal Trade Commission has amended its Appliance Labeling Rule to reflect new energy conservation standards and test procedures. Starting next year, residential clothes washers, for instance, must operate 22 percent more efficiently, with a 35 percent overall improvement by 2007. Details are in the June 18 Federal Register.

FTC also announced that it won’t change the current ranges of comparability for EnergyGuide labels this year for energy consumption of home appliances and pool heaters because new data show that the ranges haven’t changed significantly.

  • Stockbuilds slow

Propane stockbuilds slowed considerably to 1.8 million barrels following more robust activity through June, according to the Energy Information Administration. The slowdown was attributed to fewer imports, which had been the driving force for earlier builds. Industry experts believe import levels will remain strong through summer due to the favorable market conditions that exist in the United States.

Primary inventories at the national level continue to lag slightly below the average range for this time of year. U.S. inventories ended at 48.7 million barrels in mid-July.

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