WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is urging the Clinton administration to immediately release $30 million in federal aid to western Alaska villages to allow residents to buy heating fuel before winter sets in.
Stevens said Thursday that he has told Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and other officials about this year's poor salmon runs in western Alaska, and that residents may be left too cash-strapped to buy diesel.
''Without the ability to purchase fuel now, these villages will face unconscionable disasters during the winter months,'' Stevens said.
Because western Alaska rivers start freezing up in September, time is critical to getting fuel barges to villages hit hard by the salmon shortage, he said.
Congress has approved the money as part of a $600 million emergency package contained within the military construction budget. The budget bill is waiting for action by President Clinton.
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