This is about keeping
the people of Maine warm and safe this winter, said Governor Baldacci after he
signed a deal for discounted oil from Citgo.
It is imperative we act to ensure our
citizens are safe and warm this winter. The cost of heating oil has risen dramatically and
the federal government has failed to provide the resources needed to help all Maine
citizens, said the governor.
As soon as oil prices began to skyrocket,
after Hurricane Katrina, the governor put in a request, along with members of Congress, to
various oil companies to get a substantial discount on oil for Maines most
Despite record profits for all oil companies
last year, only the Venezuelan government-run oil company, Citgo, responded.
Citgo-Venezuela was the only corporation
to come forward and recognize the need that was out there, the governor said.
On January 12, at the home of Mary and Malcolm
Lyons, the governor with Felix Rodriguez, CEO of Citgo, signed a historic agreement
between Citgo and Maine.
Citgo agreed to sell eight million gallons of
heating oil on the open market and will donate a 40 percent discount off the wholesale
price to Maine. This $5.5 million will provide an additional $100-plus worth of fuel to
each of Maines 48,000 households enrolled in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Program (LIHEAP), like the Lyons.
We thank Venezuela very much, their
leaders, said Mary Lyons at the signing, and the governor.
A hundred dollars worth of oil makes a
difference for us, said Malcolm, a retired hunting guide, enjoying the company of
the governor as they talked about their passion for riding motorcycles.
I like him, said Mary, referring
to the governor. Hes so personable. I didnt know what to expect.
Hes wonderful, and so is what he is doing for the people of Maine.
The couple lives in a 108-year-old home that
is a challenge to heat. Earlier in the winter they were recipients of the governors
KeepME Warm program when volunteers winterized their home. The winterization could save
Mary and Malcolm Lyons up to $250 dollars this year.
"A hundred dollars worth of oil
makes a difference for us," said Malcolm Lyons after meeting Governor Baldacci.
Forty-eight thousand low-income citizens will have received about $100 in free oil form
The first time I ever bought oil for
this house, it was 10, no, 12 cents a gallon, Malcolm said. The Lyonses currently
spend more than $300 a month on oil in the winter. LIHEAP only provides them with around
$440 for the entire winter.
After the signing Baldacci and Rodriguez
pumped 64 gallons of Citgo oil into the basement tank at the Lyonses home with the
help of deliveryman John Worth.
The price of oil was running nearly 50 cents
per gallon higher than last year at the same time, obviously making homes harder to heat
throughout the state. People have been forced to turn down the heat and in some cases
endanger their health. The Governors Office has received calls from people who
cant afford more oil. One home in northern Maine had the toilet freeze over. The
deal with Citgo will go a long way to help those in the state that need this assistance
During a time of high oil prices and reduced
federal heating assistance, Governor Baldacci has shown that he is steadfast in protecting
the people of Maine.
This is about people,
Baldacci said. My responsibility is to keep them safe, secure and warm.
Community agencies throughout the state will
help distribute Venezuelas $5.5 million gift to 48,000 needy Mainers.
After leaving Mary and Malcolm Lyons with a
full tank of oil, Citgo representatives and the governor traveled to Indian Island for the
signing of the agreement between Citgo and Maines Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy
and Penobscot tribes.
Bernardo Alvarez-Herrera, Venezuelas
ambassador to the US, sent a statement that Penobscot tribal Chief James Sappier read
aloud at the tribal signing: We are pleased that Citgo has the resources to be able
to help keep people in New England warm this winter. In Venezuela, as in your country, our
indigenous people have been left behind for too long. All this is a tremendous
humanitarian effort, said the governor. We are grateful to Citgo and the
Venezuelan government for their generosity.
We all live in a worldwide
community, said Rodriguez. We all need to help one another. Many in my country
have lived in poverty; we understand the difficulties. We have been there. Thank all of
you for permitting us to help you in this small way.
Citgo will provide 950,000 gallons of
discounted oil to nearly 1,000 low-income households on reservation lands. The tribes will
get a 40 percent discount off the market price. The deal is expected to help tribal
residents save around $900,000 in fuel costs.
This is an extraordinary
government-to-government relationship, said Sappier. This agreement will help
our low-income families with the ever-increasing cost of oil. Its an extraordinary
savings for poor people.
Citgo is also donating 120,000 gallons of oil
to 40 homeless shelters, which represents 70 percent of Maines homeless shelter
Felix Rodriguez, CEO of Citgo, with
Governor Baldacci, meets Penobscot tribal Chief James Sappier. Maine's tribes will save
$900,000 because of their Citgo agreement.