New England's Katrina

The Consumer Price Index rose 1.1 percent in June, nearly twice the rate in May, the Labor Department announced Wednesday. The spike - the biggest one-month jump in the inflation indicator since June of 1982 - was attributable mostly to record-high price of crude oil, which pushed up the price of gasoline by more than 10 percent last month alone. Energy prices rose by 6.6 percent. Housing fuels and utilities cost 1.8 percent more in June than in May. An editorial in The Stowe Reporter cautioned

The Consumer Price Index rose 1.1 percent in June, nearly twice the rate in May, the Labor Department announced Wednesday. The spike - the biggest one-month jump in the inflation indicator since June of 1982 - was attributable mostly to record-high price of crude oil, which pushed up the price of gasoline by more than 10 percent last month alone. Energy prices rose by 6.6 percent. Housing fuels and utilities cost 1.8 percent more in June than in May. An editorial in The Stowe Reporter cautioned that the impending "calamity" when the weather turns cold this winter could be "New England's own Katrina."

Discussing high gasoline and fuel prices on National Public Radio's Morning edition on Wednesday, Bob Pindyck, a professor of economics and finance at MIT, was asked about possible solutions. "We're probably gong to have to protect low-income consumers as we approach the heating season," the professor said. "You can drive less. You can car pool or take public transportation. You can't really turn off the heat and there are parts of the country where people are going to hurt."

Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to help.

"In response to the outrageously high cost of fuel and the fact that people in the southern and northern part of America are very, very worried about how they're going to stay warm next winter and cool this summer, I introduced S. 3186, the Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act, which will provide immediate relief to millions of senior citizens, families with children, and the disabled who are struggling to pay their home energy bills," Sanders said in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday

"This bill would nearly double the funding for the highly successful Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in fiscal year 2008, taking LIHEAP from $2.57 billion to $5 $5.1 billion, a total increase of $2.53 billion."

Sanders read from an editorial in The Stowe Reporter that said home heating oil prices could be nearly twice what they were one year ago, and with no price relief in sight, thousands of Vermonters will be struggling this winter to keep their homes warm.

"It could be New England's own Katrina disaster. Hundreds of homes rendered uninhabitable, families' finances stretched to the limit, some driven away altogether to take shelter with friends or family. But unlike Katrina, this calamity is clearly visible on the horizon and we have months to prepare."

The New York Times endorsed Sanders' legislation in an editorial that concluded, "No one should have to choose between heating and eating. If they act this summer — as they must, before the presidential and congressional campaigns send everyone home — Congress and President Bush can help make sure that nobody has to make that choice."

To read The Stowe Reporter editorial, click here.

To read The New York Times editorial, click here.

To read a collection of articles about the home energy crisis, click here.