After weeks of wrangling with the Bush administration over the release of public funds to aid Vermonts home-heating assistance program, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch got their wishthe trio announced the release of $1.3 million of taxpayer funds earmarked for heating the homes of low-income Vermonters. The White House is shepherding $120 million in nationwide emergency funds that some New England politicians are itching to dole out during this election year. The administration is being criticized by Vermonts D.C. delegation for not releasing more public heating funds. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help to approximately 20,000 households in Vermont. The good news is that help paying home heating bills is going to states like Vermont where the need is greatest, Sanders told reporters in a prepared news statement last week. I strongly encourage the White House to release the remaining funds because the high price of home heating fuel is stretching the budgets of seniors on fixed incomes, families with children and people with disabilities. According to Welch, the continued high cost of heating fuel is crippling Vermonters already tight budgets and threatens the well-being of many of our neighbors struggling to get by. This release is welcome news, but with oil at record high prices again this week, we need energy policies that will bring the excessive cost of fuel under control. Despite their protests about the high cost of imported oil, Vermonts D.C. delegation has a record of voting down attempts to encourage new domestic oil-drilling projects in Alaska and elsewhere within the United States.