43 SENATORS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT TO RELEASE EMERGENCY COOLING FUNDS TO PROVIDE LIFE-SAVING ASSISTANCE DURING NATIONWIDE HEAT WAVE


WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today joined 42 of his colleagues in a bipartisan appeal to President Bush to release Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to help provide cooling assistance to elderly, disabled and low-income families during the extreme heat that has gripped much of the nation this summer. LIHEAP can provide life-saving cooling assistance to many low-income families who do not have adequate resources to pay their energy bills while temperature records continue to be shattered.

"These searing temperatures, combined with record high electricity prices across the country, are putting many low-income families at risk for heat-related illnesses because they cannot afford the cost of electricity to cool their homes. Many low-income families do not have adequate resources," the Senators wrote.

The Senators noted that public health studies have documented that summer heat and heat waves can worsen cardiovascular disease (ischemic heart disease), increasing the risk of death from heart attack or stroke, and for those with respiratory diseases there is a greater risk of death from pneumonia and other ailments. Summer heat can also lead to hospitalization for those with pre-existing kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, and epilepsy. Indeed, the current heat wave sweeping the country has resulted in more than 160 deaths in California alone. These conditions can be mitigated by access to cooling during the summer months.

According to the Northeast-Midwest Institute, the current Emergency/Contingency LIHEAP balance is $101.5 million, $80 million of which will expire at the and of the fiscal year on September 30 if the President does not release the money in the next 60 days.