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Oil prices more than tripled since late 2001 even before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast.
Between 1999 and 2003 average household expenditures on gasoline, heating oil and natural gas increased more than 35%. Industry costs, however, did not increase during this period, leading to record profits for the petroleum industry. If gas prices remain at their current average of $3.25 a gallon, NY drivers will pay $7.2 billion more than they did last year on gasoline. The recently signed federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 only makes matters worse, according to Senator Krueger. The legislation provided tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries, while weakening environmental and consumer protections. Most importantly it failed to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, failed to make any significant new investments in clean energy, and failed to protect consumers from the escalating cost of fuel.
Meanwhile, this year New YorkState was forced to stop accepting applications in May from low-income residents for assistance from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) due to lack of sufficient federal funding, leaving tens of thousands of families and senior citizens to have to choose whether to purchase prescription drugs and food or to pay energy bills.