State seeks more drivers to prevent propane shortage

- State lawmakers are looking to streamline fuel transportation in an attempt to reduce the chances of a propane shortage. Their latest bid will focus on a recurring problem for an area of the world where heating fuel during the wintertime is an all-important resource.

At a joint meeting Wednesday legislators of both parties heard from the Minnesota Propane Association, whose leadership wants new legislation to increase the amount of propane drivers can haul.

They say doing so would create a more stable supply and put Minnesota on par with neighboring states who have seen fewer shortage issues in the past.

The good news, they insist, is that the state's fuel supply is stable at the moment--though lawmakers are trying to get a handle on why Minnesota bounces from emergency to emergency when it comes to propane.

"The first week of January this year was not any supply shortage, but we do have a transportation shortage," said Roger Leider with the MPA.

Governor Dayton even declared a State of Emergency this fall that temporarily lifted some truck driving regulations in order to increase the supply of propane.

That announcement came as our bitterly cold and wet fall increased the demand for propane used to dry crops–all while people were trying to heat their homes, too.

Four years ago, there was a supply issue during the polar vortex that spiked prices, prompting the legislature to approve $20 million in emergency heating assistance funds.

During that time period, Minnesota was able to bring in truckers and rigs from other states to haul propane--though as of right now there are no spare trucks or drivers to call in if there was a shortage. 

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