Propane Days

Following this past winter’s turbulent supply situation, the recent Propane Days in Washington, D.C. provided attendees a forum to deliver a message with a new sense of urgency to their representatives.

This year, for better or worse, politicos were more knowledgeable about propane and the changes our industry is facing. A detailed presentation folder, carried by the propane industry’s Capitol Hill visitors to their respective legislative representatives, held a brief overview of the most important issues and recommendations. Unfortunately, the visit was during the House of Representatives’ recess, but the Senate was at work, with a number of senators making time in their schedules to meet, or reacquaint themselves, with their propane constituents.

The leave-behind information, compiled by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), had several sheets of “asks,” including one that covered Congress’ adoption of policies to enhance transparency and resilience of the product supply and distribution system. It was broken down into five categories: pipeline transparency; federal information and data collection; studies, which would include one of last winter’s market, the supply/demand/export situation, and the feasibility of a Midwest propane reserve; eliminating PERC’s Department of Commerce (DOC) restriction; and ensuring that DOC can waive highway weight limits during a winter fuel emergency.

Another of the requests urged support of S. 3474 and H.R. 4457, the “Extender” bills that would extend the 50-cent/gal. Alternative Fuel Credit and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property, in addition to supporting the enhanced Small Business Expensing rules outlined in Section 179 of the tax code.

While most everyone in the legislative offices agreed in principle that the issues were important to making sure the propane industry does not face another winter without some of the noted changes, they reminded attendees that it is an election year and that little would likely be accomplished until after this fall’s elections. The best hope would be for an attachment to a bill currently wending its way through Congress. Unfortunately, the remarks were not the most encouraging…once again, timing is everything.