Utility shutoffs during a climate emergency are cruel and unnecessary.

July 2023 was the hottest month ever on earth and extreme heat is continuing this August. But the big corporate utility companies are threatening shutoffs of the power (and the AC) to millions of Americans.

This is cruel and unnecessary, and Congress needs to take action as soon as they return from recess. Click here to tell Congress to increase funding to LIHEAP today, because nobody should face a utility shutoff during a climate emergency.

Even before this summer’s record breaking heatwaves utility costs were projected to increase by 11.7% from last summer. And, as always, those most impacted are the elderly, low-income households, and especially black and brown communities that suffer the worst pollution, and pay the highest utility rates, on average

The federal government provides funding to help low-income households pay for heating and utility bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). But those funds are available to les than 20% of all the households that need help, and 85% of the funding is reserved for winter heating bills. This is just one of many reasons we’ve been calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency – and is one of the many problems he could fix through executive action once he’s declared a national emergency.

But if President Biden won’t act, Congress must. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association is asking Congress for an extra $3 billion in funding to help six million households pay their utility bills this summer.

Close to 20 million households are already behind on their utility bills. But only 19 states, plus Washington, D.C. have laws in place to prevent utility shut-offs during the summer. And greedy utility corporations have clearly noticed — they’ve increased shutoffs by 15% over last year and have disproportionately targeted Black and low income households.

Utility shutoffs are cruel, and the fact that they’re targeting poor, black, brown, and frontline environmental justice communities is an attack on our ability to organize, as well as our human rights. Without the right to refuse payment — when service is spotty or the power company refuses to invest in clean, reliable power sources like rooftop solar or batteries — consumers are left with no recourse but to pay the bill or risk heat-related illness, or even death.

Congress can help address this crisis by immediately increasing funding to LIHEAP by $3 billion, so millions of families can stay cool in their homes without having to worry about their utilities being shut off. But only President Biden can declare a climate emergency and order all utilities to provide service regardless of debt or payment, while mandating we truly build back better after each heat wave by investing in solar, storage, and publicly owned clean energy for all. Click here to send a letter to Congress urging them to increase funding for LIHEAP, now.