Good call, Governor and Minnesota Lawmakers

Northstar Notes

Minnesota asks and receives federal assistance to ease propane shortage for families and farmers.

Published on: January 31, 2014

Last weekend, a letter signed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, U.S. Representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, and Rick Nolan, and Governor Mark Dayton was sent to President Obama, asking for immediate help to address the critical propane shortage in Minnesota.

They asked for several things, including emergency funding available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

After sending another letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday to plead their case, senators got their answer: an additional $15.8 million for LIHEAP in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, more than 200,000 homes rely on propane as their main source of heat.

In the first letter that went out to D.C., Minnesota lawmakers and Dayton noted that two weeks ago, residential propane prices in the Midwest averaged $2.40 per gallon, compared to $1.74 per gallon a year ago.

Last week, reports in some areas of the Midwest cited prices as high as $4 per gallon. Prices were projected to rise to $5.50 per gallon.

In the letter to Obama, the Minnesota contingent urged the administration to knock down regulatory barriers and to take additional steps to alleviate the shortage and provide relief to families and farmers.

Specifically, Dayton and the lawmakers asked for five things to happen:

•Maintain and expand the U.S. Department of Transportation exemption to the hours-of-service regulations for as long as necessary to address the crisis. "Propane suppliers need the ability to safely transport propane from areas with greater supplies like Texas and Kansas to states facing shortages like Minnesota," the letter said.