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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:54 PM

Eighth year of program: Venezuela Donates Free Heating Oil to 100k Needy US Households

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/324-100/15947-venezuela-donates-free-heating-oil-to-100k-needy-us-households

For the eighth straight year, Venezuela's state oil company is donating free heating oil to hundreds of thousands of needy Americans.

The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has helped more than 1.7 million Americans in 25 states and the District of Columbia keep warm since it was launched back in 2005. The program is a partnership between the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), its subsidiary CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded by former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II that provides discounted and free home heating services and supplies to needy households in the United States and abroad. It has been supported from the beginning by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

"The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has been one of the most important energy assistance efforts in the United States," CITGO CEO Alejandro Granado said at the Night of Peace Family Shelter in Baltimore, Maryland, where he and Citizens Energy Corporation Chairman Kennedy launched the 2013 program. "This year, as families across the Eastern Seaboard struggle to recover from the losses caused by Hurricane Sandy, this donation becomes even more significant."

Last year, President Barack Obama and Congress reduced Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding by 25 percent, cutting off an estimated one million US households from desperately needed assistance just as winter's worst chill, accompanied by record heating oil prices, set in. Fortunately, the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program was able to assist an estimated 400,000 Americanslast year.

"The federal fuel assistance program reaches only one-fifth of all the eligible households in the US," Kennedy said in Baltimore. "Millions of families just go cold at night in their own homes."

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Kennedy thanked CITGO, Venezuela and Chávez for "help more than 400,000 people stay warm and safe this winter," adding that he has approached numerous major oil-producing nations as well as some of the largest US oil companies and asked them if they were interested in helping the poor heat their homes.

"I don't see Exxon responding," he told the crowd in Baltimore. "I don't see other major oil companies heating the homes of the poor."

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