Lawmakers react to LP shortage

LAWMAKERS ON LP VO 10

It’s a story we’ve been following all week: the rising cost of liquid propane.

The price of the fuel that’s used to heat many north Iowa and southern Minnesota homes has reached nearly $5 per gallon, and it’s leaving some people wondering how they’ll pay for their LP and many of them are now turning to local lawmakers.

“It’s a much bigger thing that me at the State level and I really need my federal delegates out there our US Senators, Congress people, we really need their help to look into this and start asking the tough questions as to why?”

State representative Josh Byrnes has been fielding calls and e-mails from concerned constitutes all week regarding the sky high propane prices.

He’s been working to make sure those voices are heard on a federal level speaking with Senator Chuck Grassley earlier this week.

“Are you aware of this situation going on in Iowa and the Midwest with our LP prices and the shortage? And he said that they had just, his office had just that day started to say, you know you’re getting flooded with constitute requests to look into this,” says Byrnes.

The shortage has been blamed on a combination of a wet harvest and an extremely cold January but Byrnes questions that, saying he believes there’s more to the story.

“We have exported so much LP to Europe that Europe is actually sending us ships back to the East coast full of LP because the European reserves on LP are full,” he says.

Meanwhile, folks in our area on fixed or low incomes are struggling to heat their homes with the near $5 per gallon prices.

To help combat that an emergency bill is being filed.

“We’re going to make emergency funding available for low-income to help pay for the rising costs of propane,” says State Rep. Todd Prichard.

Prichard is co-sponsoring the emergency bill that will provide an additional one million dollars to the low income home energy assistance program.

“Usually the assistance is $500 but with the increase in price we feel that $650 is appropriate,” says Prichard.

It’s a temporary fix to help folks make it through the winter but Byrnes hopes federal law makers will step up to make sure a crisis like this doesn’t happen again.

“We can’t let this happen again, I mean this is something that is taking place right now, but next winter we can’t get into a cycle of this,” says Byrnes.

Monday afternoon Iowa law makers are meeting with representatives from Iowa’s propane industry at the state capitol to find out if there are other steps the legislature can take to ease the crisis.

For more information on home heating assistance:

www.dcaa.iowa.gov/bureau_weath/how_apply.html.

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