Iowa’s two U.S. senators are pushing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider its options and prioritize pipeline shipments of propane to Iowa.
Senator Chuck Grassley says he and fellow Republican Joni Ernst are calling on the agency to act right away, as concerns are rising about the state’s worsening propane shortage. “Most of that concern is in regard to late harvest of our crops and the moisture content of corn that must be dried out,” Grassley says, “but we also have livestock and poultry producers that are worried with the cold winter weather ahead.”
The request for action stems from consistent feedback Grassley says he’s getting from farmers, coops and others around Iowa about the dwindling supply of liquid propane gas. “This propane issue compounds the frustration and financial struggles that farmers are faced with, particularly this year,” Grassley says. “The issue is transportation and infrastructure, not a nationwide supply shortage.”
Governor Kim Reynolds is already working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ease the hours of service and the various rules for trucks that are hauling propane into Iowa, primarily from a large depot in Kansas. “There isn’t a single silver bullet to fix the problem but we’ve got to explore every possibility,” Grassley says. “This is among the top issues that I’m hearing from Iowans right now.”
Grassley says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, was able to force temporary changes a few years ago during a propane shortage and he’s hoping for a repeat. “There’s contracts and obligations for the pipeline company to deliver a certain amount of this product or that product,” Grassley says. “It’s my understanding that present law, and law then, gave FERC the opportunity to preempt these contracts and say you’ve got to send more LP gas than anything else.”
While many farmers need propane to dry their grain so it doesn’t rot in storage, others need the fuel to keep their livestock, homes and businesses warm.