Hoeven, Boozman, Pryor, Franken Lead Letter Urging President to Provide Relief During Propane Shortage
WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) are leading a bipartisan coalition of senators in pushing the Obama administration to provide relief for families, farmers, and businesses who are suffering from a significant spike in propane prices this winter. The senators wrote to urge the President to provide continued regulatory relief for and assistance to those impacted by the propane shortage.
“Homes, businesses, and farms desperately need propane, and the shortage threatens the safety of families and the financial stability of farms and businesses,” the Senators wrote in a letter to the President. “We urge you to ensure the ongoing engagement of all relevant agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration, and others. We look forward to working with you to advance solutions to alleviate this propane shortage.”
Hoeven worked to secure assistance from federal officials at the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide relief from propane shortages and high heating costs. Earlier this month, he pressed HHS for and secured $3.4 million in additional LIHEAP funding to help North Dakotans heat their homes, as well as an emergency declaration from federal DOT to allow drivers transporting propane to operate under extended hours to help alleviate shortages.
“We continue working to do all we can to help address the propane shortage and to help provide communities and families with the assistance they need to heat their homes,” said Hoeven.
The following senators signed the Boozman-Pryor-Hoeven-Franken letter: Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Angus King (I-Maine.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo,) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Full text of the letter to the President follows:
February 7, 2014
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing on behalf of our constituents – families, farmers, and businesses – who are suffering from a significant spike in propane prices this winter. In emergency situations, the law allows federal agencies to provide regulatory relief that will lower costs and increase propane supply in areas with critical shortages. Also, federal assistance can be provided to states and communities to address this very serious situation. We ask you to identify and implement sensible authorities, provided by law, that agencies can use to mitigate the effects of this propane shortage. In particular, we ask you to review all available options to facilitate and enable the transportation of propane to areas with shortages, especially via interstate pipelines, but also via highways, railways, and waterways.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. propane stocks have fallen far below the 5-year seasonal average. The most recent EIA report indicates that propane stocks are 25.8 million barrels lower than a year ago, a drop of 44.9%. As a result, in many areas, residential and wholesale propane prices have doubled, or even tripled, since October. Numerous factors, including extremely cold weather and transportation problems, have resulted in high usage, significant drawdowns, and low stocks. Now, more than twenty states have issued disaster declarations related to the propane shortage.
Homes, businesses, and farms desperately need propane, and the shortage threatens the safety of families and the financial stability of farms and businesses. Thankfully, propane suppliers are already responding to market forces and taking extraordinary steps to increase supplies in hard-hit areas. Until propane stocks recover, the government should continue to provide and/or expand short-term regulatory relief to incentivize these activities. We are pleased that several federal agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy, have responded to the propane shortage by providing regulatory flexibility and assistance. We urge you to ensure the ongoing engagement of all relevant agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration, and others. We look forward to working with you to advance solutions to alleviate this propane shortage.
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