PORTLAND (AP) – Low-income Mainers concerned about home heating bills this winter got some good news Tuesday.

The Bush administration has agreed to immediately release $79.9 million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program emergency fund, of which $7.1 million is earmarked for Maine, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe said. “The end of summer, and the eventual arrival of cold winter weather, will cause a rise in demand for heating oil and could increase heating oil prices,” she said.

the Republican senators said in a statement. “The release of these funds will help our neediest citizens fill their oil tanks now, and will be a more efficient use of their funds.”

Some 4.5 million low-income families, including about 46,450 in Maine, rely on LIHEAP to help meet their heating needs.

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