High heating cost solution at sources

Thursday, January 12, 2006

By now most readers of this column are well aware of the cost increases in heating your home this winter, primarily those using natural gas. Home heating oil used extensively in the eastern part of the country is also experiencing a similar jump in price.

The problem is so bad that the Missouri Legislature will today fund $6.1 million in additional assistance to help the low income cover their home heating expenses. That's on top of $38 million in federal heating assistance that will be used.

Though you're probably unaware, the Community Christmas Campaign uses as much of its funding in Sikeston to help pay utility bills as it does to provide holiday items.

The problem of escalating heating bills is of course not limited to Missouri. Across the country, natural gas prices have increased and the burden on customers is substantial. In fact, the low income are simply unable to pay those high costs. And thus the government steps in and provides assistance.

Instead of spending tax dollars year in a year out, why does the federal government not provide some financial incentive to expand the providers of natural gas and other home heating sources? Why does the government not remove barriers and tariffs so that the gas providers are motivated to provide more heat at a lower cost. If we're going to spend billions each year to assist the low income with their heating needs, then why not go to the source and provide some policy that would increase supply and decrease costs?

No one should have to make substantial sacrifices to keep themselves warm in the winter months. But surely there is some change within the gas industry that can change the problem at the source and not at the end-user.

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