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Boozman, Pryor, Hoeven & Franken Lead Effort to Help Those Affected by Propane Shortage

WASHINGTON –A bipartisan coalition of senators is pushing the Obama administration to provide relief for families, farmers, and businesses who are suffering from a significant spike in propane prices this winter.

U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), Al Franken (D-MN) and several of their colleagues are urging the President to provide continued regulatory relief for and assistance to those impacted by the propane shortage.  In many areas, prices have doubled, or even tripled, since October.

“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,” the Senators wrote.

Boozman and Pryor both weighed in on why this is of specific importance to Arkansas.

“This winter has been brutal, and Arkansas families, farmers, and businesses cannot afford a propane shortage. The President can provide support and regulatory relief that will lower costs and make it easier to replenish propane stocks in hard-hit areas. This will help bring prices down.  My colleagues and I, from both sides of the aisle, are calling on the administration to provide relief from the skyrocketing heating costs that many Arkansans are facing as a result of the shortage. With more cold weather on the way, it is our hope that he acts quickly,” Boozman said.

“Our state relies on a readily available supply of propane. In times of need, Arkansas are forced to pay skyrocketing costs just to meet the demands of their life and work,” said Pryor. “This just won’t work. That’s why we’ve joined a bipartisan coalition of my colleagues to urge the President to provide common-sense regulatory relief for our families, farms, and industries. The time is now to ensure Arkansas has the resources and the help we need.”

The following senators signed the Boozman-Pryor-Hoeven-Franken letter: Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Angus King (I-ME)John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The following is the letter in its entirety:

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 increase propane supply in areas with critical shortages, which is expected to lower costs.  Also, federal assistance can be provided to states and communities to address this very serious situation.  We ask you to identify and implement sensible strategies, provided by law, to guide federal agencies in assisting states with efforts to mitigate the effects of the current propane shortage.  In particular, we ask you to review all available options to facilitate and enable the transportation of propane to areas with shortages, via interstate pipelines and other modes of transportation.

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 24.0 million barrels lower than a year ago, a drop of 43.8%.  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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