This long winter, which made January the coldest month in recorded history for 25 U.S. cities, will cost each household an average of $139 for increased heating bills, according to a Library of Congress study released yesterday.
The extra fuel bill for consumers will total $8.4 billion, the study said. It would thus largely offset the Carter administration's $9.6 billion tax rebate plan.
In addition, a possible loss of $1.6 billion in wages because of plant shutdowns was projected by Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minh), who released the Library of Congress study. That would mean a total impact of $10 billion on the economy, and "if that's anywhere near right, it's an awful blow," Humphrey said.
Looking at Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Charles L. Schultze, at a Joint Economic Committee hearing Humphrey said: "That [$10 billion] comes to two-thirds of your $15 billion stimulus for this year."
Schultze, who Monday told the Cabinet that extra heating costs would amount to $2 billion to $5 billion, said his estimates may have to be widened." He conceded, too, that the administration eventually may have to increase its total $31.2 billion economic stimulus package to offset the impact of the winter of 1976-1977.
The slight relief that came yesterday - a breath of barely warmer Pacific air that moved into the glazed and dazed East - raised temperatures by a few degrees.
Still, temperatures remained below normal for this time of year, and weather forecasters held some hope that a warm surge, expected cost of the Rocky Mountains Saturday, will break loose and send temperatures as much as 12 degrees above normal levels.
That is precisely what is needed to ease the natural gas curtailments that have lowered thermostats in homes, closed stores and schools and thrown hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
Despite Congress' passage of Presient Carter's emergency gas bill yesterday industry officials say they still may not be able to buy significantly more gas to ease this winter's shortage.
On Monday, two major pipelines in Texas, Lone Star and Lo-Voco, were forced to curtail gas to their low-priority customers, according to a spokesman for the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates intrastate gas pipelines there. It is the lines of such companies - those distributing their gas within a state - that the President hopes interstate lines will be able to tap with the emergency legislation.
Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal yesterday authorized the Colubmic Gas Service System Corp. to use a foreign ship to transport two loads of liquified natural gas from Alaska to Massachusetts. The shipments would increase supplies in the Columbia pipeline network, which serves gas companies in Virginia, Maryland, the District, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennysylvania, New York and West Virginia.
Columbia gas said however, that the Liberian tanker that will do the hauling is in the Mediterranean and will take four weeks to get to Alaska. It would take about 40 days for it to make a round trip, using the Panama Canal.
Treasury has at least three other pending requests for permission to use foreign vessels to move liquified natural gas between U.S. ports, including two that would discharge at Chesapeake, Va. The vessels are seeking waivers of the Jones Act, a federal law that forbids foreign ships to carry goods between U.S. ports except in emergencies.
In Michigan and upper Wisconsin, heating fuel has begun arriving in increeased supplies following Federal Energy Administration orders to about five upper central U.S. refineries to cut back on aviation fuel production in favor of home heating oil. Pipelines and trucks are carrying the fuel to areas normally supplied by barges, which are icebound.
Weather-related deaths totaled 76 in eight states.
In Buffalo, 300 soldiers from Ft.Bragg, N.C., arrived yesterday to help dig out the overhelmed city. A state of emergency remained in effect, and sparodic looting was reported. All but essential traffic was banned from streets.
Thomas R.Casey, federal disaster assistance coordinator, said Buffalo would receive about $200,000 in newly available federal funds to hire the unemployed for snow clearance.
The $200,000 is part of a $10 million federal fund made available by the Labor Department to six hard-hit states - Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennysylvania, New Jersey and Ohio - for snow removal.
In Ohio, two of the state's largest suppliers of Natural gas - Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dayton Power & Light - said yesterday they have exteneded until next Wednesday their nearly 100 per cent curtailment of gas to large industrial and commercail users, including schools. The curtailments were originally scheduled to end at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The Ohio congressional delegation asked President Carter yesterday to declare the state a disaster area. Gov. James A. Rhodes made a similar request Tuesday.