Warren, Markey Announce Release of Additional LIHEAP Funding for Massachusetts Residents
Commonwealth to Receive Over $136 Million in Federal Heating Aid
United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) release of an additional $136,483,517 of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding to Massachusetts. This funding, which includes $204,725 for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, follows a letter sent by Senators Warren, Markey, and 38 of their Senate colleagues earlier this month calling on HHS to release LIHEAP funds as quickly as possible.
"Every family in our Commonwealth should be able to heat their homes and stay safe during the cold winter months," said Senators Warren and Markey in a joint statement. "While this additional LIHEAP funding will make a real difference for Massachusetts families who rely on federal aid to help cover their energy costs, more funding is needed for Massachusetts and other states experiencing extremely cold weather. LIHEAP is a key part of ensuring the safety and well-being of Massachusetts residents, and we are committed to supporting and strengthening this important program."
LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. More information about LIHEAP is available on the HHS website here. Recently, the Senators requested that the Appropriations Committee support the LIHEAP Emergency Contingency Fund in the next upcoming funding package, in order to allay higher home heating costs incurred after the Merrimack Valley natural gas disaster.
Congressional Black Caucus Responds to Kroger Grocery Store and Tree of Life Synagogue Mass Shootings
In response to the murders of two African Americans in a Kentucky Kroger grocery store and the 11 Jews slain Saturday at a Pittsburgh, PA synagogue, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) released the following statement:
“It brings me great sorrow to have to recurrently address the public and console our loved ones due to acts of grotesque, racially charged hate and pure evil,” said Rep. Richmond. “Just days ago, a white supremacist set out to murder any and all African Americans he could find. After an unsuccessful attempt at trying to enter a predominantly African American Baptist church, Gregory A. Bush made his way to a nearby Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky killing two African Americans in and around the grocery store. This is not the United States of America that we should know, love, or grow accustomed to.”
“What happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Saturday was beyond horrific. An anti-Semite came into a sacred place of worship and took the lives of 11 innocent worshipers. This is one of the deadliest attacks on the Jewish community in United States history, and thoughts and prayers from lawmakers are not enough to prevent these events from happening again. We cannot sit back and watch as bigots and racists take the lives of innocent Americans, and we must not stay silent while white nationalists continue to feel emboldened and empowered by the tacit approval of our highest form of leadership. At a time like this, it is clear that we must perform an audit of our core values, evaluate what we really stand for, and then take the necessary corrective steps to ending anti-Semitic and other racially charged acts of violence from becoming a common occurrence.”
“African Americans know well the deeply rooted pain also experienced by those in the Jewish community on the account of the flagrant racists and bigots that poison our country. Events ranging from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama to the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, to the Freedom Summer murders in Mississippi, both African Americans and the Jewish community know what it is like to be targeted and routinely persecuted all in the name of fear and hate. We also know well the sacred fellowship shared between our communities. The Jewish community in America has long supported African Americans, most notably with their contributions during the Civil Rights Movement, including funding the NAACP and several historically black colleges and universities.”
“It is inconceivable to think that in only the past few years that we have endured and witnessed an unprecedented spike in hate crimes. The Anti-Defamation League has reported a 57% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, as well a sharp increase in anti-Semitic online harassment. Everyone deserves to feel peaceful and safe in their respective places of worship. One of our Founding Fathers, President George Washington said it best, ‘May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.’”
“In the wake of our current age of hate, vitriol, and racially motivated violence, I am reminded of the enlightening words by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’. Through light, love, and the spirit of perseverance, not only will we conquer and overcome the hate that plagues our nation, we will not falter nor become divided. United we shall continue to stand.”
The Congressional Black Caucus was established in 1971 and has a historic 48 members for the 115th Congress, including one Republican member and two senators. Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) is the chair of the caucus.
Massachusetts and New Hampshire Delegations Applaud Award of Substantial Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant
$2.95 Million Federal Grant Will Support Partnerships Between New Hampshire and Massachusetts Law Enforcement to Fight Trafficking of Heroin and Fentanyl
United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), along with Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) applauded an award of $2.95 million to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office in support of partnerships between New Hampshire and Massachusetts law enforcement to investigate and interdict narcotics, including heroin and fentanyl.
"Drug trafficking knows no borders which is why partnerships across state lines are so important to keeping drugs off our streets," said the Massachusetts and New Hampshire delegations in a joint statement. "We believe that these partnerships between law enforcement will undoubtedly save lives. This award is a vote of confidence in our law enforcement who do such a tremendous job protecting our communities and need all the help they can get as they fight on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. We will continue to do all that we can to secure resources and provide tools to those who are fighting to end this epidemic."
In July, the Massachusetts and New Hampshire delegations wrote to the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice in support of the grant proposal submitted by the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.
CONSUMER GROUPS FIGHT BACK ON TRUMP’S PLAN TO KILL MONEY-SAVING MPG STANDARDS
Administration Breaks Promise of Fuel Savings to American Families
In comments submitted jointly with 32 of America’s consumer groups to the U.S. EPA and NHTSA in response to the Administration’s ill-founded proposal to roll back and freeze the highly-popular, cost-saving fuel economy standards at their 2020 level, Jack Gillis, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of The Car Book, issued the following statements:
A Broken Promise:
“Rolling back our miles-per-gallon standards is a broken promise to the American people. Families cannot afford to spend more money at the pump. These standards protect consumers from rollercoaster gas prices that are already on their way up again (up 16% in the last year). This is why over two-thirds of Americans support federal fuel economy standards. Households don’t have a choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices at the dealership, whether it’s a car, truck or SUV. Denying families the fuel savings that will come from the current standards will wreak havoc on household finances.”
Blaming the Need for Rollbacks on Safety is Flat Out Wrong:
“Our safety report completely refutes the Administration’s flat-out wrong rationale for rolling back the standards. In our most recent analysis, CFA has determined that all new 2018 vehicles are not only more fuel efficient, but they are also more crashworthy and include more safety features than their previous versions. Not only do auto safety experts and NHTSA (whose own data shows that vehicles are safer) debunk the Administration’s safety claims, but they were also rejected by 76% of consumers in a recent national survey. The fact is, safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up. The truth is that today’s “all-new” vehicles are the safest and most efficient cars, trucks and SUVs in history, and consumers are responding by buying them in record numbers. When it comes to protecting your family and saving money on gas, you don’t have to choose.”
Fuel Efficiency Pays for Itself and Everything Else:
“Not only does fuel savings cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but it will often cover all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases many times over, including new advanced safety features. When examining 2018’s “all-new” vehicles, CFA determined that 50% of these vehicles were actually cheaper to purchase and fuel compared to their 2011 counterparts. Consumers who purchase a new vehicle today, will typically save $860 over the cost of fuel efficiency technologysavings which will grow as gas prices increase. Not only is this a benefit to household finances, but when these consumers spend these savings on other household goods and services, the economy gets a boost.”
Fuel Efficient Trucks and SUVs Sell Better:
“Families and workers that need larger vehicles will be hurt the most by this rollback. Ironically, as the car companies request a rollback, the resulting fuel efficiency improvements brought about by the standards have made these vehicles more desirable, increasing sales for automakers. CFA’s analysis of vehicle sales shows that popular SUVs, which have increased their MPGs by 15 percent, sell far better than those who had less than a 15 percent improvement. MPG standards have been a win-win for the people who need bigger cars and, ironically, for the automakers who sell them. In the years since the standards were enacted, car makers have enjoyed the highest vehicle sales in American history. Increasing fuel efficiency helps make new vehicles entering the market more affordable for consumers.”
Short Sighted Action Will Hurt U.S. Car Makers:
“CFA’s recent analysis clearly shows automakers are on the road to achieving the standards, with many vehicle models already meeting the 2025 standard. Halting this progress at 2020 half a decade before we’ll see the full benefits of the standards will roll the American auto industry back to the days of the last fuel price spike when lots of vehicles remained unsold and the taxpayers had to bail them out while foreign carmakers reaped the sales with their fuelsipping vehicles.”.”
Putting Corporations Before People:
“The American public does not want these standards rolled back. Survey after survey shows that consumers want the higher fuel efficiency standards because they save money. CFA's latest survey provides indisputable evidence that consumers of all political ideologies strongly support them. (61% of Republicans, 66% of independents and 71% of Democrats) In fact, states that are dependent on the auto industry support the standards to an even higher degree compared to the general populace. To roll back fuel efficiency standards is to put corporate lobbyists’ wish lists over the needs of American families, who want, and are buying, safe, attractive and efficient vehicles that go farther on every gallon of increasingly more expensive gas.”
Revoking States’ Rights:
“Revoking states’ rights guaranteed under the Clean Air Act, in place since 1975, goes against the will of thirteen states and DC representing 113 million Americans and over a third of the automotive market. These states have chosen address their own unique air quality issues which have resulted in cost-saving, efficient cars for their citizens. The standards are also immensely popular, with over 2 out of 3 consumers supporting states’ rights to adopt the clean car standards.”
Good Jobs Will Be At Risk:
“Tragically, good manufacturing jobs across the country will be at risk with this proposed rollback. Jobs could be lost if Detroit again cedes market share to foreign car companies fully prepared to meet increasing national and global demand for more fuel efficient cars.”
*Consumer groups joining the Consumer Federation of America in comments to NHTSA and EPA opposing the proposed freeze and rollback of the federal fuel economy standards and the revocation of the California waiver:
Arizona Consumers Council Foundation
Arizona PIRG Education Fund
California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (30)
Chicago Consumers Council
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana
Colorado Public Interest Research Foundation
ConnPIRG Education Fund
Consumers Council of Missouri
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Florida Consumer Action Network
Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Illinois PIRG Education Fund
Maryland Public Interest Research Foundation
Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Montana Organizing Project
New Mexico PIRG Education Fund
North Carolina Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Ohio PIRG Education Fund
Oregon Citizens Utility Board
Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
PIRGIM Education Fund
Policy Matters Ohio
Public Interest Research Foundation of New Jersey
Texas Consumer Association
Texas Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Virginia Citizens Consumers Council
Washington Public Interest Research Group Foundation
For a copy of the full comments go here.
Warren Presses Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Safety Concerns at Pilgrim Power Plant
Senator Calls for Stronger Oversight Following Reports of Unplanned Shutdowns, Equipment Problems
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Kristine Svinicki, Chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to reiterate her concerns regarding the safety operations at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station ("Pilgrim") in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The senator's letter, which marks the sixth time she has written to the NRC regarding Pilgrim's safety concerns, comes amid reports that the plant has been powered down for a total of 57 days this year due to equipment problems.
Entergy Corporation, which owns the 46-year old Pilgrim plant, announced in 2015 that the plant would close in 2019 following the news that it had entered Column 4 of the NRC's Oversight Process Action Matrix, the lowest safety designation a plant can receive without being required to shut down. Earlier this month, in what was the latest in several shutdowns that have occurred at the plant this year alone, Pilgrim reportedly went into an unplanned automatic shutdown when a valve that regulates water flow into the reactor unexpectedly closed, causing a drop in reactor water level. As of October 9, 2018, Pilgrim had been offline 57 days.
In her letter to the NRC, Senator Warren expressed concern with the NRC's efforts to ensure safe operations at Pilgrim during its last full calendar year of operation, citing the recent 57-day shutdown at the plant. The senator also noted that the plant is listed as the worst performed of the nation's 98-reactor commercial fleet.
"Given Pilgrim's status placement in Column 4 of the NRC's Oversight Process Action Matrix... and it's repetitive safety failures and unscheduled shut downs, it is deeply alarming that the NRC has not taken additional steps to ensure that Entergy is safely operating the Pilgrim plant," wrote Senator Warren.
The senator also criticized the NRC for granting the plant several extensions and exemptions from implementing key safety measures such as cybersecurity updates, upgrades to vent systems, and emergency planning zone requirements.
"Time and time again, the NRC have ignored critical discrepancies in safety measures and put Massachusetts residents at risk," the senator continued. "The health and well-being of our constituents depends on the NRC's commitment to establishing standards that keep plants functioning safety and to ensuring that operators continually meet those standards."
The Senator called on the agency to step up its oversight of the Pilgrim plant and to address the continuing safety concerns before the plant closes in June 2019 and as it is decommissioned in 2020. In February, Senator Warren joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Bill Keating (D-Mass.) in sending a letter to the NRC expressing concern about Pilgrim's decision not to preemptively shut down the reactor ahead of a severe snowstorm in early January.