SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn has recently announced some emergency actions to help fix the shortened supply and high prices of liquefied propane gas and heating in Illinois. These actions are aimed at making it quicker to transport the fuels from other states into Illinois, yet keep safety at a top level during this process.
Quinn has issued a disaster proclamation that would give licensed Illinois truckers the ability to drive through other states to obtain said fuels and bring them back to the state of Illinois without having to stop and apply for additional licenses. This declaration will also allow drivers to remain behind the wheel longer in order to pick up and deliver the fuels back to the state. It will also increase the number of drivers that would be able and available to bring propane back into the state of Illinois.
Taxes that are usually levied on out-of-state trucks are being temporarily suspended by the Illinois Department of Revenue for trucks that bring in heating fuels to Illinois. The United States Department of Transportation has also issued emergency declarations that provided for federal regulatory relief for motor vehicles delivering LP gas and heating fuels to affected areas.
The much colder than normal winter has caused a shortage in LP gas and heating fuels throughout the midwest. This shortage has caused prices to take a hike that has placed an extreme burden on the consumer in heating costs this winter.
Sarah Stockton-Brown of Airgas Company in LaSalle talked about the current situation.
“Airgas distributes propane primarily for industrial use, such as forklift fuel and cutting applications. In certain parts of the country, Airgas also distributes some propane for residential use, including home heating. Overall, propane represents a relatively small portion of our total gas sales. Airgas purchases its propane from suppliers, some of whom are currently experiencing shortages in various regions of the country, including the Midwest. We are actively working with our suppliers to manage through any regional shortages and meet our customers' needs,” Stockton-Brown said.
According to a Jan. 28 article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the United States has larger supplies of propane, but it is in the wrong place. The midwest has been shorted due to a wet drying season this past fall. However, southern states like Texas have not had that problem. The United States is also continuing their program of exporting propane to other countries.
More than 70 members of the U.S. House of Representatives has drafted a letter asking President Barack Obama to take immediate action to ensure states in need of propane receive relief as soon as possible.
Natural gas, another heating fuel that people in Illinois use has also been on the rise. In late January when the weather had seemed to ease, the natural gas prices fell sharply. Natural gas futures plunged .32 cents, or 7 percent according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch article. This drop had come since natural gas prices had achieved their highest level since September of 2011.
According to the United States Energy Information group, weekly Illinois propane wholesale/resale price is at $4.50 per gallon as of Jan. 31.