After a month-long recess, Congress has returned to a full agenda and fast-approaching deadlines. Possibly the most important task on the long list of agenda items is passing the 12 appropriations bills required to fund the federal government. With only ten legislative days left until the September 30 deadline, lawmakers may not accomplish this without additional time. In order to avoid a government shutdown, both chambers will need to reach an agreement on a stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution, to fund the government until Congress can pass the 12 regular spending bills. If a CR is not passed, then the government will shutdown. APGA members will not be directly impacted, but there will be indirect impacts as government employees in your communities may be furloughed without pay and regulatory staff working on federal rulemakings in Washington, D.C., will be unable to make progress in their efforts.
For the funding bills, APGA has been hard at work advocating for the continued funding of vital programs to support the work of public utilities across the country. We are happy to see that initial proposals in both the House and Senate meet the funding requests APGA and our partners have made to appropriators. However, as negotiations continue, public gas utilities are relying on lawmakers to stand by their commitments to these programs.
APGA has partnered with the National Energy Utility Affordability Coalition (NEAUC) to ask Congress to increase funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP offers financial assistance toward the energy costs of the most vulnerable households, such as individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and families with young children. Across the US, more than 5 million American households depend on the program annually, many of whom are public natural gas utility customers. Natural gas is one of the most affordable and reliable energy sources available. LIHEAP is able to bridge the gap for individuals and families who rely on public utilities to deliver the energy that heats their homes and cooks their food.
APGA has also urged Congress to prioritize funding for several research and development programs related to the natural gas industry and the role the people and pipes will play in America’s clean energy future. Natural gas and its direct use in the homes and businesses of millions of Americans is responsible for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Continued investment in innovation through research, development, and deployment will open the door to revolutionary technologies. Significant gains have already been made with leak detection technology, gas heat pumps, renewable natural gas (RNG), etc. Federal investments in natural gas infrastructure innovations are essential for public utilities to continue providing homes and businesses with safe, cost-effective energy.
As negotiations continue in Congress, APGA staff will continue to advocate for the funding of programs that support public gas utilities and their customers.
For questions on this article, please contact Joshua St.Pierre of APGA staff by phone at 202-407-0015 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.