Bills Seek to Revive Alternative Fuel Tax Credit, Butane Blending Clouds Issue

(December 13, 2019) — The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) reports that House Ways and Means Committee Democrats have introduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act. The legislation addresses climate change by using tax code incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill includes an extension of the lapsed 50 cent per gallon alternative fuels tax credit, which includes propane, retroactively for two years to cover 2018 and 2019 and forward for two years, 2020 and 2021, while providing a three-year “phasedown” for 2022 through 2024. The proposal would prospectively cut the credit to 38 cents per gallon, then 25 cents, and finally 17 cents.
Propane-powered Light Duty Vehicles Sandy Springs Police Department Cruisers On Road enjoy 50 cent gal alternative fuel tax credits reports BPN the lpg industry trusted source for news since 1939 dec 13 2019
In addition, U.S. Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) have introduced a standalone bill that would extend the alternative fuels tax credit. It would renew the expired 50 cents per gallon credit retroactively for 2018 and 2019 while providing a five-year prospective extension from 2020 through 2024, and then a two-year phasedown at 25 cents per gallon for 2025 and 2026.

However, as noted in Roll Call Nov. 21, tax extender efforts in Congress have bogged down in various disputes over what provisions should be included and whether offsets are necessary. Further complicating matters is the U.S. Treasury stands to take a $49.9-billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that butane, which is mixed with gasoline, qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for the 50 cents per gallon credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent by the chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation to attorneys of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees. Roll Call reports that both panels have been busy trying to shut down the butane credit, even as they seek to extend the underlying alternative fuels credit.
The Joint Committee on Taxation has been working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine the scope of the butane petition and found that taxpayers could be on the hook for tax refunds related to claims by 45 unnamed filers, some of which have the same parent company, for the tax years 2013 through 2017. In 2018, IRS ruled that butane and gasoline mixtures should not qualify for the alternative fuels tax credit since that was not the intent of lawmakers when they created the credit as part of the 2005 highway bill to promote alternative fuels.

“Every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States contains butane,” IRS attorneys wrote, adding that butane occurs naturally in the gasoline refining process. It is also mixed to boost octane and help engines run more smoothly in cold weather. Nevertheless, several companies, among them Valero Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest oil refiners, filed suit against IRS, arguing they were following the law and the intent of Congress. In Valero’s complaint, the San Antonio, Texas-based company argued that the term “alternative fuel” for tax credit purposes identifies “liquefied petroleum gas,” which includes butane as well as propane. The U.S. government has moved to dismiss the cases, which are still pending in federal court.

Roll Call reviews that the butane-related claims caught the eye of tax writers in both houses of Congress late last year when the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee released an extenders package with a one-year renewal of the alternative fuels credit that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would cost $7.1 billion. That was more than 10 times higher than the previous extension through 2018, which was estimated to cost $555 million.

When the Democrat-controlled Ways and Means panel introduced its extenders bill in June, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the cost to renew the provision for three years at just $2.2 billion, or a little more than $700 million a year, after the IRS prohibition on butane claims was written in. The Senate Finance Committee introduced a similar package earlier in the year.

Under the committees’ proposals, any claims that had not been approved as of the date of the bill’s enactment would be shut down. That pulled the trigger on the starting gun, launching a race to litigate as companies sought to secure their alternative fuels credits before Congress acted. The new definitions in the House and Senate bills would not only remove butane from being considered an alternative fuel but could impact other fuels as well, including propane.

Minnesota-based CHS Inc., a cooperative owned by 70,000 farmers and more than 1000 independent cooperatives, tells Roll Call that prior to the expiration of the alternative fuel credit at the end of 2017, it successfully received the credit in both 2016 and 2017, based on its use of propane. “Substantial investments” were made to its facilities based on opinions from two tax counsels who told CHS that propane would qualify for the credit, the company wrote in a letter sent to the Senate Finance energy tax task force. Company officials noted that proceeds from the tax credit were used to “encourage expansion of propane transportation infrastructure,” arguing that propane is a cleaner-burning fuel currently in use by law enforcement fleets and school districts in their near-zero emissions propane-powered bus fleets.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, December 9, 2019. Available by subscription. Photo courtesy: Propane Education & Research Council)

PALFINGER Partners With Falcon Equipment As Exclusive Distributor In Western Canada

(December 12, 2019) — PALFINGER is pleased to announce they have entered into a partnership with Falcon Equipment, appointing the company as an exclusive dealer of PALFINGER truck mounted equipment in the Provinces of British Columbia, Southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Yukon Territories. The Sales and Service Agreement for Northern Alberta will commence January 1, 2020.
PALFINGER Propane Crane and Lift bobtail truck manufacturer appoints Falcon Equip exclusive dealer reports BPN 121219
Falcon Equipment will sell, service, rent, and provide parts for all PALFINGER's equipment across Western Canada. Premium quality, excellent service and a focus on customers’ needs are a top prioritiy in area of sales, service and rental business, gaining the company the reputation as a leading dealer in Western Canada.

Founded in 1988, Falcon Equipment has been offering customized load handling solutions making the company a natural fit within PALFINGER’s product offerings. Falcon Equipment will distribute PALFINGER’s product lines for Loader Cranes, Timber/Recycling Cranes, Service Cranes, and Hooklifts. Truck Mounted Forklifts, Railway Systems and Access Platforms. The partnership will cover the four Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, as well as the Yukon Territory.
Falcon Equipment exclusive dealer PALINGER propane crane lift truck manufacturer rpts BPN LPG ind trusted news source 1939
“We are excited about the partnership between PALFINGER and Falcon Equipment as this aligns with our growth initiatives in creating value-added custom solutions for our customers,” said Lennart Brelin, SVP Sales and Service, North America. “We see strong potential for growth in a wide variety of applications. We look forward to a successful partnership.”

About PALFINGER North America:
Founded in 1988 in Niagara Falls, ON, PALFINGER North America is a leading manufacturer of truck-mounted Articulating Cranes. PALFINGER Service Cranes are some of the most versatile tools for propane delivery, installation and service needs to easily lift and set propane tanks at distances up to 29 feet with accuracy and control with PALFINGER Service Cranes. PALFINGER provides superior lifting strength, pinpoint accuracy with wireless proportional control systems and flexibility at the jobsite. Over the years, added partnerships have allowed the PALFINGER brand to become a complete truck-equipment solution provider due to its comprehensive product portfolio. The PALFINGER North America Region consists of five (5) manufacturing locations, eleven (11) wholly-owned sales and service locations, and a dedicated staff of more than 1000 employees who serve the North American markets. Worldwide, PALFINGER stands for the most efficient, reliable, and innovative lifting, loading, and handling solutions — for the LIFETIME of the product. For more information, visit www.PALFINGER.com.

Bass Pro Recalls "MR. STEAK" Propane Gas Grills

(December 11, 2019) — Bass Pro has announced a recall of its popular MR. STEAK propane gas grill because it poses a potential fire hazard. The recall involves its four- and five-burner models of MR. STEAK propane gas grills.
Bass pro recalls MR. STEAK propane gas grills reports BPN the LPG industry's leading source for news since 1939. Dec 11, 2019
The problem stems from the grill's fuel gauge and fuel line. Officials say the gas regulator hose with attached fuel gauge can melt if it comes into contact with the bottom of the grill’s firebox.

Bass Pro has received nine reports of grill fires occurring due to the defect. No injuries or property damage have been reported.

The recall involves model numbers:
• MS-4B-PG, SKU 2472264
• MS-5B-PG, SKU 2472265

The grills are stainless steel with black trim and have four or five black and red dials. The words “MR. STEAK” is printed below the thermometer on the grills’ lid.

The recall also applies to SKU numbers 2366916 and 2366917 if you added an aftermarket fuel gauge to the regulator assembly.

The model number can be located on a label inside the left compartment door or on the back of the grill. The SKU number is printed on the receipt.

The recalled grills were sold from May 2017 through July 2019 at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and ABT Appliance & Electronics stores nationwide and online at basspro.com and cabelas.com.

Approximately 3,300 grills were sold in the U.S. with an additional 400 sold in Canada.

Anyone who purchased one of the recalled MR. STEAK grills should STOP using them immediately and contact the company for a free repair kit by calling 833-677-8325 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday-Friday or visit mrsteak.com and click “RECALL” or visit mrsteak.com/repairpartskit for information.

(Photo courtesy: WPTV.com)

Showcasing Businesses To Elected Officials Yields Results

(December 11, 2019) — When Koppy’s Propane (Williamstown, Pa.) invited representatives of two legislators and a regulatory agency to tour the company’s rail terminal, the event was interactive and hands-on. Questions about the propane industry were asked and answered throughout. In a highlight of the tour, several of the visitors climbed one of the rail towers to get a close-up look at how propane gets from the railcars to the tanks.
Koppys Propane Hosts Elected Officials Tour LPG facilities reports BPN industrys leading source for news since 1939 121119
“It was a great event; I wish I had done one sooner,” Kara Tucker, vice president at Koppy’s Propane, tells BPN. “The relationship building was extremely valuable. Just having someone’s email is great, but now we can also put a face to the name. Plus, we can say we met at the tour and climbed that rail tower together.”

Facility tours and other face-to-face meetings between propane marketers and their legislators are so valuable, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) declared “Congressional site visits” to be one of its four “90-day criticals” for the third quarter of 2019. While NPGA staff meet with the legislators in Washington, D.C., the association also wants legislators to meet propane businesses and employees back in their home states and districts. The association has prepared a 13-page “Facility Tour Guide” that can be downloaded by NPGA members.

Inspired by the NPGA guide, and facing a wave of environmental laws and regulations in the states it represents, the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE) has just printed its own “Facility Tour Guide.” Executive director Leslie Anderson wrote the guide with input from association staff and others. She also produced three handouts to go with it that provide facts and figures about propane in the region, including its economic impact; its contribution to cleaner air; and its provision of renewable energy and energy security.
Koppys Propane Invites Federal and State Legislative and Regulatory Officials to Tour LPG facilities and create consensus on value of fuel source in USA policy reports BPN industrys leading source for news since 1939 121119
“Here in New England, legislators have really been coming on strong against propane, lumping it in with other fossil fuels,” Anderson says. “We need to educate them and explain that using propane is recycling a beneficial by-product.”

“There are always crazy bills that pop up,” she adds. “The legislators need someone they can call. They rely on the expertise of those in their community and they like to learn how the bill will affect their constituents. That means a lot to them.”

Part of the Community
Chuck Holden, president of Holden Oil (Peabody, Mass.) and immediate past chairman of PGANE, keeps in touch with legislators by attending many of the same events they attend.

“I see politicians at all the charity events,” Holden says. “My family has been ingrained in the community for nearly 100 years. I can’t think of a nonprofit that members of our family are not on the board of or have not made a contribution to. I am the chairman of the International Festival in Peabody. I spent the whole day there, talking with every politician who is in office or running for office. I didn’t talk business, but they could see that I am contributing to the event.”

Politicians who have seen Holden at these charity events have later called him to ask what he thinks of bills that come before them. Recently, an elected official called to ask about carbon tax and how it would affect consumers and people on fuel assistance.

“I am always aware of what’s going on,” Holden says. “I don’t have statewide pull, I just want to influence my small part of northeast Massachusetts.”

“Show the legislators you are as much a part of the community as they are,” Holden suggests. “You have to give up a weekend for these events, but you meet a lot of nice people. It’s great for business, too, without you explicitly being there for business. Without the community, your business is not going to be around long.”

David Stewart, propane manager at Heartland Propane (Girard, Kan.), hosted his first facility tour in June. The company hosted U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, his wife, and members of his staff. The visit was arranged with the help of NPGA.

The congressman and other visitors were at the Heartland Propane facility for an hour and a half. They were given a tour of the bulk plant and a walk-around of a bobtail. Throughout the tour, Stewart explained how everything works and the safety components they include.
Koppys Propane Pennsylvania Hosts Elected Officials to Tour LPG facilities educate on important role propane plays in USA energy infrastructure reports BPN industrys leading source for news since 1939. Dec 11 2019
“They were very curious about the propane industry,” Stewart says. “We talked about daily operation, safety, and how our employees affect how we do business.” He adds, “Don’t be intimidated by a congressman. They are there for knowledge. They are there working for us and looking for information.”

Koppy’s Propane had never hosted a facility tour before the one it held Aug. 6. That event was coordinated with the help of the Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association (PAPGA) state lobbyist.

The guests included members of the staffs of two state legislators—Sen. David G. Argall and Rep. Mike Tobash—and representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP facilitates hours-of-service waivers on the state level. Representatives of NPGA and PAPGA also attended and provided handouts for the other guests.

When preparing for the tour, Tucker read NPGA’s “Facility Tour Guide” from front to back. On the day of the tour, Koppy’s Propane had refreshments and name tags on hand for everybody.

“I started the visit with background on my family, our family business, and a company history,” Tucker says. “I also explained how the rail terminal had helped us.”

Throughout the event, Koppy’s Propane provided photo opportunities. After the event, Tucker followed up and shared the photos with the visitors. “We gave them photos and I believe they went on the legislators’ social media; I know they went on ours and NPGA’s,” she says.

Show and Tell
In New England, PGANE’s request that its member companies host facility tours and arrange other scheduled meetings comes in response to the many environmental laws and regulations being proposed in the region. To help members teach legislators that propane is a source of clean energy, Anderson and PGANE put together those three handouts that include key talking points. They also printed the “Facility Tour Guide” to help them deliver that information in person.

“Hosting a tour is a big ask, so we wanted to give them the tools to do it,” Anderson says. “Our members are very busy. They can read just the bullet points or they can read it in-depth.”

She suggests that propane marketers add their own materials to those PGANE has produced. These might include information about where the business is located, how many people they employ, and ways they support local groups.

“They should make the legislators aware that they are active in the local community,” Anderson explains. “That is a large part of the culture up here.”

Right before an election is a good time to invite legislators to a facility tour. “If they are up for election, that’s a great time.” “Anytime the candidates can talk to a dozen people at a time and do a meet and greet, they will.”

Before a facility tour or other meeting, learn about the legislators and what they are interested in. “Do a little internet research on Twitter and Facebook,” Anderson suggests. “If they are interested in the military, promote energy security and what you have that supports that. If they are an animal lover, show what you’ve done with your local shelter. Find things that will resonate with the legislator who is going to visit.”

During the tour, show and tell. “Showcase your business, whatever you think stands out,” Anderson recommends. “Walk them around a bobtail. Show them your bulk plant and explain how the propane comes in and how it goes out. Show them the equipment you have, like outdoor fireplaces and on-demand water heaters. Show them what propane can do.”

After the tour, keep the conversation going. “Follow up by sending a note and inviting them to come by anytime,” Anderson advises. “Send them pictures you took that the legislator can post on their social media.”

“When you talk to your local legislators, a magic thing happens: they learn you are a wholesome member of the community and not the evil industry characterization that is present in the media,” Anderson says. “When you meet them face to face, they get to see that. Then, when an issue comes up, they will think twice before voting on it and they will call you to ask your opinion. That has happened to many of our members.”

ISSUES AND IMPACTS
In Massachusetts, Holden’s relationships with legislators paid off recently. A bill had been introduced in the state legislature that would have forbidden propane marketers from charging minimum use fees. A legislator called Holden to ask what he thought. Soon after, the bill was referred to committee for study, without being voted upon.

“They don’t know the logistics of the propane business,” Holden tells BPN. “I told them it would be impossible to comply with.”

“I like to think what I said on the call helped,” he adds. “If I didn’t already have a relationship with that legislator, I wouldn’t have been heard.”

In Kansas, one purpose of the tour of the Heartland Propane facility was to introduce the freshman congressman to the propane industry. Stewart also focused on two specific issues: the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would create an apprenticeship program for commercial drivers, and an extension of alternative fuel tax credits.

“It’s hard to get staff that are ready to go,” Stewart explains. “If we could have the apprenticeship program in place, we wouldn’t have such a tough time replacing retirees and filling other open positions.”

Before leaving the Heartland Propane facility after the tour, the congressman said he would cosponsor the DRIVE-Safe Act. He also invited Stewart to a town hall and later recognized him at the event.

In Pennsylvania, Koppy’s Propane’s messages to the visitors focused on hours-of-service waivers; natural gas expansion; and propane as a domestic alternative energy.

“We wanted to educate the DEP folks on the infrastructure of our industry and the need for hours-of-service waivers,” Tucker says. “Over the last few years, we have gotten federal exemptions, but it’s important to form a relationship with the state too. We want to be prepared, so that we are not dependent on a federal waiver.”

“Our rail terminal is a nice place to showcase and to help explain the infrastructure—how propane gets from one place to another and ultimately to the end user. The tour was a great opportunity to educate them.”

“Having contacts we can reach out to directly now, that’s huge,” Tucker concludes.

NPGA members can download the “Facility Tour Guide: Showcasing Your Business to Elected Officials” at no charge. It is available at npga.org; go to the Member Dashboard, then Propane Days 365, and click on “2019 Site Visit Guide.”

PGANE members can get copies of its “Facility Tour Guide” and handouts by emailing marketing specialist Olivia Conway at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. —Steve Relyea

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Nuisance Climate Test Cases

(December 10, 2019) — As recently reported by Bloomberg, oil companies face a growing number of climate nuisance claims from local governments, and those proceedings could continue unendingly in state courts unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in. Specifically, the nation’s high court is scheduled to decide soon whether to approve state-court proceedings for several cases regarding lower-court and local government officials seeking to hold energy companies accountable for their purported role in contributing to climate change.

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Nuisance Climate Test Casesbill w gavel photo by bill oxford reports weekly propane newsletter available by subscriptionIndustry counsel have filed three emergency requests urging Supreme Court justices to block cases filed in Rhode Island, Baltimore, and Colorado municipalities, part of a pack of state and local governments using public nuisance law against the deep pockets of large energy companies.

Noted is that the Supreme Court won’t immediately consider the core legal issues. Rather, the justices will look at a procedural element: whether state-court action in the climate cases should advance while federal appeals courts decide that’s where they belong. Still, the Supreme Court’s decision promises to shape the foundation of the burgeoning area of climate liability law.

If the court declines to take up the cases oil companies will have to face state-court proceedings, and potentially expensive discovery that targets internal documents related to company knowledge of links between fossil-fuel combustion and climate change. “These are early test cases,” Baltimore Solicitor Andre M. Davis, the city’s litigator, tells Bloomberg. “There are states and cities all over the country watching and studying these developments very closely.”

The news agency comments that climate nuisance litigation has been building for years. The moves have been led by left-leaning local governments that want fossil fuel companies to pay for what they term is infrastructure damage, flooding, and public health problems they allege are linked to global temperature change. Over the past two years, officials in Rhode Island, California, New York, Colorado, Maryland, and Washington state have all filed suit.

The various legal efforts have ensnared state courts, federal district courts, federal appeals courts, and now the Supreme Court. The circuit courts’ decisions will set the ground rules in 27 states where new plaintiffs could file similar litigation. Each lawsuit originated in state court, raising claims that fossil fuel companies violated state common law by producing, marketing, and selling coal, oil, and gas, despite understanding the planet-warming impacts of burning the products.

One by one, energy companies defending against the suits have pushed the cases to federal court. Oil companies argue that while local governments might have fashioned their complaints under state law, they actually involved issues best decided by a federal court. The dispute over jurisdiction is important. In a 2011 case, the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act blocks litigants from using federal common law against greenhouse gas polluters. Oil companies could have an easier time getting courts to toss nuisance cases if judges view them as federal claims and review them in federal court.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, December 2, 2019)