Thursday January 19, 2012 | 01:32 PM

As expected, the Obama administration released more money today for a low-income heating assistance program that aids thousands of Mainers.

But the $10 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program dollars headed for Maine brings the total allotment for the year to less than $40 million, well under the $56.5 million the state received last year. Maine members of Congress, who announced the news of Maine's final LIHEAP payment for the 2012 winter heating season, said that's not enough. The Maine money was part of $863 million released nationally by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the average Mainer on the program will get $483 this winter heating season. Last winter, 63,802 Mainers got LIHEAP benefits averaging $802 over the heating season, according to MaineHousing, which oversees the program for the state.

Snowe and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree want the Obama administration and congressional leaders to raise the total LIHEAP funding nationally to $4.7 billion, the same amount granted the program last year.

Currently, the national total approved by Congress is $3.5 billion, after the Obama administration requested just $2.57 billion in its proposed 2012 budget. Maine lawmakers also are urging the Obama administration to ask for more LIHEAP funding in the 2013 budget due out next month.

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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