WASHINGTON – A broad coalition of U.S. senators is asking President Obama to take administrative action to address a significant spike in propane prices this winter that has been declared an emergency in 20 states, including Arkansas.
“This winter has been brutal, and Arkansas families, farmers and businesses cannot afford a propane shortage,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
“Our state relies on a readily available supply of propane,” said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. “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 cost of propane has more than doubled from a year ago, topping $4 a gallon at the end of January. The shortage has been blamed on high demand caused by an unusually cold winter as well as a wet harvest season last year.
Gov. Mike Beebe recently declared a state of emergency in Arkansas because of the propane shortage.
In a letter sent Friday to the White House, nearly 30 senators requested that federal agencies provide regulatory relief to increase propane supplies in areas where there is a critical shortage. The letter also requested Obama to identify and implement “sensible strategies” to assist states as they seek to mitigate the effects of the propane shortage.
In particular, they suggested that the White House review all available options to make it easier to transport propane into areas where there is a critical shortage.
Boozman and Pryor worked with Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.Dak., and Al Franken, D-Minn., to draft the White House letter. Nearly 30 members signed the letter, including: James Inhofe, R-Okla., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, this week called for congressional hearings to see what can be done to address the dramatic increases in propane prices across the Midwest.
“Iowans who are facing the latest in a long string of winter storms and frigid temperatures need Congress to get to work,” he said.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture said the average statewide price of propane is at a record $4.71 a gallon and is approaching $5 a gallon in some areas of the state.