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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Program and Funding


Libby Perl
Specialist in Housing Policy

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), established in 1981 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (P.L. 97-35), is a block grant program under which the federal government makes annual grants to states, tribes, and territories to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. The LIHEAP statute authorizes two types of funds: regular funds, which are allocated to all states using a statutory formula, and emergency contingency funds, which are allocated to one or more states at the discretion of the Administration in cases of emergency as defined by the LIHEAP statute.

States may use LIHEAP funds to help households pay for heating and cooling costs, for crisis assistance, weatherization assistance, and services (such as counseling) to reduce the need for energy assistance. According to the most recent data available from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in FY2006, 49.6% of funds went to pay for heating assistance, 3.6% of funds was used for cooling aid, 17.8% of funds went to crisis assistance, and 10.0% was used for weatherization. The LIHEAP statute establishes federal eligibility for households with incomes at or below 150% of poverty or 60% of state median income, whichever is higher, although states may set lower limits. However, in both the FY2009 and FY2010 appropriations acts, Congress gave states the authority to raise their LIHEAP eligibility standards to 75% of state median income. In FY2008, the most recent year for which HHS data are available, an estimated 33.5 million households were eligible for LIHEAP under the federal statutory guidelines. According to HHS, 5.4 million households received heating or winter crisis assistance and approximately 600,000 households received cooling assistance that same year.

For FY2011, LIHEAP is funded through March 4, 2011, as part of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act (P.L. 111-322), which was enacted on December 22, 2010, and amends the Continuing Appropriations Act enacted on September 30, 2010 (P.L. 111- 242). Pursuant to P.L. 111-322 (the CR), HHS is required to obligate to states, tribes, and territories the same amount of LIHEAP regular funds as were obligated during the comparable time period in FY2010 (i.e., through March 4, 2010). States request their share of LIHEAP formula grants quarterly, and may request as much as 100% of their grants in the first quarter of the fiscal year. State allocations under the CR therefore depend on the amount of funds that each state requested in the first two quarters of FY2010, when the total amount appropriated for regular funds was $4.5 billion. On January 13, 2011, HHS issued a press release announcing how funds would be distributed to the states. See column (c) of Table A-1 for this distribution.

In FY2010, Congress appropriated $5.1 billion for LIHEAP (P.L. 111-117), the same amount that was appropriated in FY2009. Of this amount, approximately $4.5 billion was appropriated as regular funds and $590 million as emergency contingency funds. The FY2010 appropriation also maintained the distribution of regular funds set out in the FY2009 appropriations act, with approximately $840 million allocated according to the “new” LIHEAP formula and the remainder—approximately $3.67 billion—distributed according to the proportions of the “old” formula. Three distributions of emergency contingency funds were made during FY2010 (see Table A-2).

This report describes LIHEAP funding, current issues, legislation, program rules, and eligibility.



Date of Report: January 13, 2011
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: RL31865
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework


Adam Vann
Legislative Attorney

The development of offshore oil, gas, and other mineral resources in the United States is impacted by a number of interrelated legal regimes, including international, federal, and state laws. International law provides a framework for establishing national ownership or control of offshore areas, and domestic federal law mirrors and supplements these standards.

Governance of offshore minerals and regulation of development activities are bifurcated between state and federal law. Generally, states have primary authority in the three-geographical-mile area extending from their coasts. The federal government and its comprehensive regulatory regime govern those minerals located under federal waters, which extend from the states’ offshore boundaries out to at least 200 nautical miles from the shore. The basis for most federal regulation is the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which provides a system for offshore oil and gas exploration, leasing, and ultimate development. Regulations run the gamut from health, safety, resource conservation, and environmental standards to requirements for production based royalties and, in some cases, royalty relief and other development incentives.

In 2008, both the President and the 110
th Congress removed previously existing moratoria on offshore leasing on many areas of the outer continental shelf. As of the date of this report, Congress has not reinstated the appropriations-based moratoria that were not renewed by the 110th Congress. Other recent legislative and regulatory activity suggests an increased willingness to allow offshore drilling in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. In 2006, Congress passed a measure that would allow new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Areas of the North Aleutian Basin off the coast of Alaska have also been recently made available for leasing by executive order. The five-year plan for offshore leasing for 2007-2012 adopted by the Minerals Management Service (MMS, now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOE)) in December of 2007 proposed further expansion of offshore leasing. At the same time, the role of the coastal states in deciding whether to lease in areas adjacent to their shores has also received recent attention.

In addition to these legislative and regulatory efforts, there has also been significant litigation related to offshore oil and gas development. Cases handed down over a number of years have clarified the extent of the Secretary of the Interior’s discretion in deciding how leasing and development are to be conducted.



Date of Report: December 27, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL33404
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Program and Funding

Libby Perl
Specialist in Housing Policy

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), established in 1981 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (P.L. 97-35), is a block grant program under which the federal government makes annual grants to states, tribes, and territories to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. The LIHEAP statute authorizes two types of funds: regular funds, which are allocated to all states using a statutory formula, and emergency contingency funds, which are allocated to one or more states at the discretion of the Administration in cases of emergency as defined by the LIHEAP statute.

States may use LIHEAP funds to help households pay for heating and cooling costs, for crisis assistance, weatherization assistance, and services (such as counseling) to reduce the need for energy assistance. According to the most recent data available from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in FY2006, 49.6% of funds went to pay for heating assistance, 3.6% of funds was used for cooling aid, 17.8% of funds went to crisis assistance, and 10.0% was used for weatherization. The LIHEAP statute establishes federal eligibility for households with incomes at or below 150% of poverty or 60% of state median income, whichever is higher, although states may set lower limits. However, in both the FY2009 and FY2010 appropriations acts, Congress gave states the authority to raise their LIHEAP eligibility standards to 75% of state median income. In FY2008, the most recent year for which HHS data are available, an estimated 33.5 million households were eligible for LIHEAP under the federal statutory guidelines. According to HHS, 5.4 million households received heating or winter crisis assistance and approximately 600,000 households received cooling assistance that same year.

For FY2011, LIHEAP is funded through March 4, 2011, as part of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act (P.L. 111-322), which was enacted on December 22, 2010, and amends the Continuing Appropriations Act enacted on September 30, 2010 (P.L. 111- 242). Pursuant to P.L. 111-322 (the CR), HHS is required to obligate to states, tribes, and territories the same amounts of LIHEAP regular funds as were obligated during the comparable time period in FY2010 (i.e., through March 4, 2010). States request their share of LIHEAP formula grants quarterly, and may request as much as 100% of their grants in the first quarter of the fiscal year. State allocations under the CR will depend on the amount of funds that each requested in the first two quarters of FY2010, when the total amount appropriated for regular funds was $4.5 billion. As of the date of this report, HHS had not announced the amount that states will receive.

In FY2010, Congress appropriated $5.1 billion for LIHEAP (P.L. 111-117), the same amount that was appropriated in FY2009. Of this amount, approximately $4.5 billion was appropriated as regular funds and $590 million as emergency contingency funds. The FY2010 appropriation also maintained the distribution of regular funds set out in the FY2009 appropriations act, with approximately $840 million allocated according to the “new” LIHEAP formula and the remainder—approximately $3.67 billion—distributed according to the proportions of the “old” formula. Three distributions of emergency contingency funds were made during FY2010 (see Table A-1).

This report describes LIHEAP funding, current issues, legislation, program rules, and eligibility.



Date of Report: December 23, 2010
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: RL31865
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Intermediate-Level Blends of Ethanol in Gasoline, and the Ethanol “Blend Wall”


Brent D. Yacobucci
Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy

On March 6, 2009, Growth Energy (on behalf of 52 U.S. ethanol producers) applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a waiver from the Clean Air Act (CAA) limitation on ethanol content in gasoline. Ethanol content in gasoline for all uses had been capped at 10% (E10); the application requested an increase in the maximum concentration to 15% (E15). A broad waiver would allow the use of more ethanol in gasoline than is currently permitted.

On October 13, 2010, EPA issued a partial waiver for the use of E15 in model year (MY) 2007 and later passenger cars and light trucks. The agency also announced that it could expand the waiver to MY2001-2006 cars and light trucks after it receives final testing data from the Department of Energy (DOE). At the same time, EPA denied the waiver request for the use of E15 in MY2000 and older vehicles, and in motorcycles, heavy trucks, and non-road applications, citing a lack of sufficient data to alleviate concerns about potential emissions increases from these engines. Concerned about potential damage by E15 to equipment not designed for its use, a group of vehicle and engine manufacturers has challenged the partial waiver in court.

The 10% limitation leads to an upper bound of roughly 15 billion gallons of ethanol in all U.S. gasoline. This “blend wall” will likely limit the fuel industry’s ability to meet an Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, P.L. 110-140) requirement to use increasing amounts of renewable fuels (including ethanol) in transportation. To meet the high volumes mandated by EISA, EPA recognized in a November 2009 letter to Growth Energy that “it is clear that ethanol will need to be blended into gasoline at levels greater than the current limit of 10 percent.” The partial waiver for newer vehicles—roughly one-third of the cars and light trucks on the road in 2011—will allow the use of more ethanol going forward, assuming other conditions are met. Expanding the waiver to MY2001 and later would cover an additional one-third of vehicles.

To receive a waiver, the petitioner must establish to EPA that the increased ethanol content will not “cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system” to meet emissions standards. EPA is to consider short- and long-term effects on evaporative and exhaust emissions from various vehicles and engines, including cars, light trucks, and non-road engines.

In addition to the emissions concerns, other factors affecting consideration of the blend wall include vehicle and engine warranties and the effects on infrastructure. Currently, no automaker warrants its vehicles to use gasoline with higher than 10% ethanol. Small engine manufacturers similarly limit the allowable level of ethanol. In addition, most gasoline distribution systems (e.g., gas pumps) are designed to dispense up to E10. While some of these systems may be able to operate effectively on E15 or higher, their warranties/certifications would likely need to be modified. Further, many current state laws prohibit the use of blends higher than E10. Questions have been raised whether fuel suppliers would even be willing to sell E15 alongside E10.

As EPA’s waiver only applies to newer vehicles, a key question is how fuel pumps might be labeled to keep owners from using E15 in older vehicles and other equipment. Along with the waiver decision, EPA proposed new pump labeling rules to indicate which gasoline pumps dispense E15. The comment period for the proposal runs through January 3, 2011. EPA also sought comment (through December 17, 2010) on how to update guidance for underground storage tank (UST) owners, who must demonstrate compatibility of UST components with E15 before they may sell the fuel. Further, for EPA to allow the sale of E15, a fuel supplier still needs to register E15 with EPA and submit health effects testing for EPA to review.



Date of Report: December 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R40445
Price: $29.95

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Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.