Government

Iowa, Midwest propane shortage has Sen. Grassley pushing for action

Early cold weather has created heightened demand

“I’ve heard from farmers, propane marketers, co-ops and manufacturers in Iowa about how the lack of access to propane is affecting operations and threatening livelihoods,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says. Above, he answers a question at a town hall meeting in Anamosa in July. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
“I’ve heard from farmers, propane marketers, co-ops and manufacturers in Iowa about how the lack of access to propane is affecting operations and threatening livelihoods,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says. Above, he answers a question at a town hall meeting in Anamosa in July. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Following calls from Iowa officials, a federal energy agency is ordering a pipeline company to shift distribution of liquid propane to Iowa and other Midwest states where demand by farmers and homeowners is outstripping the supply.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered an alternative dispute-resolution process to address the propane shortage in the upper Midwest. The move — following calls from Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Midwest officials — should provide emergency transportation of propane to the Midwest for 30 days. The Iowa U.S. House delegation of Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack, Cindy Axne and Steve King also sent a letter to FERC last week seeking relief from the propane shortage.

The letter can be read at https://bit.ly/2KGniZZ.

The timeline is uncertain at this point, according to Grassley’s staff, but when it was used in 2014, the process began at the time the petition was filed. An emergency prioritization order was issued within a day.

Under the FERC directive, propane is being directed to the Midwest from the Enterprise Pipeline out of Texas to Monee, Illinois.

“It’s a good first step and I’m glad to see (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is taking this issue seriously,” Grassley said Wednesday during his weekly call with reporters.

Liquid propane is used to dry corn, heat homes and livestock facilities and run businesses.

Demand is high because of early cold weather this fall. Also, a wet spring that delayed planting has extended the harvesting season to overlap with the home heating season.

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“I’ve heard from farmers, propane marketers, co-ops and manufacturers in Iowa about how the lack of access to propane is affecting operations and threatening livelihoods,” Grassley said.

The alternative dispute-resolution process will bring together pipeline companies, shippers and others to explore actions the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the industry can take to alleviate the shortage of propane, Grassley said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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