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Illinois Officials Cry Fuel Discrimination

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The state of Illinois is crying foul over the latest dispersal of low-income heating money. The federal government doled out the last $80 million of this year’s heating assistance, and Illinois did not make the cut.

The money is earmarked for the poor who use home heating oil, a fuel common on the East Coast. But Illinois human services director Barry Maram says most Illinois homes use natural gas.

“People shouldn’t be losing dollars because Midwestern states use natural gas rather than using fuel oil. So, we very much value partnerships with the federal government in this regard, but we want to be treated fairly,” he says.

The governor’s office states natural gas prices have doubled in the past three years.

The Bush Administration defends its decision. A health and human services spokesperson predicts the cost of home heating oil will rise faster than natural gas this year.

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