April 2019

Maine Dems introduce bill to add fee to wholesale price of heating oil, propane


Article courtesy: WGME, Fox 23

AUGUSTA (WGME) — Nine democrats have introduced a bill to add a fee onto the wholesale price of heating oil, propane and other fuels.

The bill’s sponsor says money from his proposed heating fuel tax would go to make homes more energy efficient, but opponents say the tax will hurt the very people he’s trying to help.

Jesse Mansir and Catherine Gary need help paying for heating fuel, and they’re upset with the lawmaker who wants them to pay more with a tax.

“That’s ridiculous,” Gary said. “It really is. It’s expensive as it is. $800 a month. That’s what we’re going through right now. It’s too much.”

“We need help paying our bills as it is with everything. And if they keep going up, how are we going to be able to afford to heat our house?” Mansir said. “That’s why we’re here for fuel assistance.”

The bill calls for a 1 percent tax on the wholesale price of heating oil, propane, coal, kerosene, and diesel fuel for heating.

The bill’s sponsor says it would provide additional funding to insulate and weatherize homes in Maine.

“The unregulated fuels; oil, kerosene and propane; have no such contribution to those programs, and two-thirds of our homes are heated with those fuels,” Rep. Chris Kessler said.

“I think they have plenty of money. I don’t think they have to come after us for pennies, which isn’t pennies to us,” Edgecomb homeowner Priscilla Hansen said.

Representative Kessler says for average households, the tax passed onto consumers would amount to an extra $25 a year.

Supporters of this tax say it would benefit low-income families the most.

“They pay a lot of money to heat their homes and their homes are often very inefficient,” Dylan Voorhees with the Natural Resources Council of Maine said.

But critics say this tax doesn’t make sense.

“We have people going to the gas station to get five gallon buckets of kerosene cause already they can’t afford the minimum deliveries. This is just going to exacerbate that problem,” Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said.