"I have spoken with affected West Virginia families for years - our elderly on fixed incomes and our mothers with children to keep warm - and I know how much this program means to them," Rockefeller said. "Now is not the time to stop supporting those in need."
Rick Wilson of the West Virginia chapter of the American Friends Service Committee said spending federal funds to help poor people pay energy bills has minimal impact on the federal budget.
"The largest items driving up the federal deficit are the Bush tax cuts and wars - particularly the Iraq war," Wilson said. "Yet, the only items that appear to be on the agenda for budget cutting are the ones that help meet basic human needs.
"I am afraid these proposed energy cuts are only the beginning of a bunch of proposed cuts coming down the pike.
"I really commend Senator Rockefeller for having the courage to speak out about this. Every winter, thousands of West Virginians have to choose between trying to keep their utilities on and meeting other basic needs, like eating. Sometimes, whatever they do is not enough."
On Friday, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said a $100 supplement is being sent to help pay heating bills of the state's elderly residents, disabled residents and low-income families who already have received regular LIHEAP payments.
Tomblin said he approved these payments from federal funds as "a means to help address heating costs experienced during this winter season."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.