NPGA briefs Congressional Propane Caucus on winter preparations

August 25, 2017 By    

In July, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) hosted a briefing for the Congressional Propane Caucus on the 2017-18 winter supply outlook.

The panel discussion was arranged by co-chairmen of the caucus, Reps. Robert Latta, R-Ohio, and Timothy Walz, D-Minn. Phil Squair and Matt Bisenius of NPGA, as well as Chris Cafarella of Sharp Energy, provided attendees with an overview of the industry’s expectations for the upcoming winter season, according to NPGA.

These types of briefings are important points of contact between members of Congress and propane industry members. According to NPGA, it is important for the caucus to focus on the industry’s preparations for the winter season, as well as current developments within the industry.

“It gives those members offices’ information about how to respond to their constituents. They want the good, strong basics so they have a baseline to talk to their constituents,” Squair says.

Squair talked about policy and the industry, while Cafarella discussed what companies do to prepare for the heating season, particularly how they maintain and obtain supply.

“We talked about lessons we had learned in 2014 and how much more knowledgeable we are about the international and global supply,” Squair says. “We have inventory trend reports that we rely on that give us a snapshot of the year-round industry.”

The panel also included a discussion of some of the policy recommendations that were made during Propane Days. According to an NPGA issue brief, the recommendations cover steps that can be made to improve infrastructure and avoid supply problems.

The Congressional Propane Caucus ensures that the voice of the propane industry is heard on Capitol Hill, NPGA says. The caucus, which was formed in 2015, consists of members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – who have agreed to support the propane industry in challenging situations.

The caucus also serves as a core group of members of Congress who have or want to gain knowledge about the propane industry. It gives NPGA and other industry members specific congressional leaders who understand the industry and are able to judge whether an issue is worth pursuing.

“There are a lot of caucuses – they are just an expression of interest in a common issue,” Squair says. “It’s really an informal way, though officially sanctioned, of linking members of Congress with each other and with the industry, and with their constituents who rely on propane.”

Though Squair notes that all members have taken steps to participate in the caucus, its co-chairs, Latta and Walz, are the members who acted the earliest and have been most active since the caucus’ inception.

Even before the caucus was formed, Latta and Walz were working to pass legislation that protected the propane industry. The Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Latta and Walz, addresses the supply and distribution challenges that were experienced in the winter of 2013-14. President Obama signed the bill into law in 2014.

According to Latta’s office, the bill ensures the Department of Commerce uses proper data to calculate consumer prices and allows the Propane Education & Research Council to improve training for retailers and consumers to help mitigate the negative effects of propane price spikes.

“The gratifying thing is that it’s as bipartisan as it is,” Squair says. “Our issues are not ideological. Energy policy affects all members of Congress. Awareness of energy issues and propane supply issues reached a new high a few years ago and we’re using that to make sure that [members of Congress] know more and more about our industry and the needs of the constituents they serve.”

In the two years since its inception, the caucus has grown from 10 members to 58 and consists of representatives from both parties.

Current members of the Congressional Propane Caucus:

Co-Chair, Rep. Robert E. Latta, R-Ohio
Co-Chair, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.
Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas
Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa
Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.
Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa.
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif.
Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.
Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio
Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.
Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.
Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis.
Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio
Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.
Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas
Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J.
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich.
Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn.
Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan.
Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.
Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis.
Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio
Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich.
Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.
Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas
Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va.
Rep. David Young, R-Iowa

About the Author:

Clara Richter was a managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

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