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NPGA director: Propane industry must mobilize outside DC

July 13, 2020 By    

Thoughts of the June heat we felt while walking Washington, D.C., streets for the Propane Days lobbying event over the years came to mind last month as we continued to follow industry events virtually.

Photo courtesy of Phillips Energy

Elizabeth McCormick, vice president of Phillips Energy, welcomes U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia to the company’s Gloucester Point office. Photo courtesy of Phillips Energy

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) held its mid-year board of directors meeting by webinar, naming a new class of officers who will take the reins in an unusual time for the industry, our country and the world. Prior to that meeting, the association hosted four webinars with U.S. representatives – part of its effort to conduct a modified, virtual Propane Days amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hosted by Michael Baker, director of legislative affairs for NPGA, the webinars aimed to provide the industry with genuine insights from those members of Congress who don’t always dominate the national headlines. Topics of discussion included propane’s role on the energy spectrum, COVID-19, legislation beneficial to the propane industry and the upcoming election.

“If the calls showed anything, it shows our voice is being heard,” Baker says.
 

 

What we’re used to

The type of information shared on these mid-June calls, whether by the association or congressional leaders, is usually heard by industry members in person, in the nation’s capital. Those messages might come in hotel ballrooms reserved for prepping the industry for meetings on Capitol Hill or in congressional offices where the industry works to educate policymakers on the important role propane plays across America.

Though Propane Days is a two-way street of communication, it serves as a unique opportunity for the industry to truly explain the details about propane and its sometimes-underappreciated benefits as a clean, versatile and reliable energy source.

Attending Propane Days events regularly since 2007, I’m always struck by how little some legislators know about propane. That lack of knowledge on Capitol Hill underscores the need for the continuing education of policymakers and their staff members as well as the sharing of valuable resources made available to the propane industry – whether by our national organizations or state associations.

Baker calls Propane Days one of the most important tools for the industry and association to carry out that advocacy work. It helps bridge the gap for Baker, who works to connect legislators and their constituents – many of them small businesses – across America.

A novel approach

“Now that we’re in a different situation, we have to change the way we approach that,” says Baker, recognizing the importance of industry members continuing to connect with legislators about the issues impacting their businesses.

He adds, “We have to mobilize our industry outside of Washington, D.C.”

That’s what NPGA plans to facilitate as the next phase of its modified Propane Days program, which Baker says will take effect this year.

“The next phase of this ‘replacement for Propane Days’ will be a program that will really push our members to get out and host meetings, either at their local propane facilities or going to district or state offices for these legislators and meeting with them in person,” Baker explains.

Just as it does at Propane Days, NPGA plans to prep marketers before they host or visit with legislators. That intel might include information about current issues or the names of key committees on which legislators serve. It’s all aimed at furthering the dialogue and strengthening the connection with governmental leaders, who hold the power to shape the direction of our industry.

COVID-19 has changed the way we do almost everything, but it hasn’t made the end goals any less important.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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