Propane Days 2019: The industry’s latest priorities

June 20, 2019 By and    
George Walton of Prism Propane, left, and Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio. Photo by Mikayla Hall

George Walton of Prism Propane, left, meets with Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, during Propane Days 2019. Photo by Mikayla Hall

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) held its annual Propane Days lobbying event in June. Here are the issues and “asks” that propane industry members took to congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

Alternative fuel tax credits

The propane industry continues to seek a long-term extension of alternative fuel tax credits, which expired at the end of 2017. NPGA says an extension of at least five years is essential for propane’s growth as an alternative fuel, as it would provide certainty to customers in the public and private sector who are considering the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. These credits would include a 37-cent-per-gallon credit on propane used in motor vehicles, including forklifts and lawn mowers, and the alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit. The infrastructure credit would provide an income tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of qualified alternative fuel vehicle refueling property. At Propane Days, the industry shared the fuel’s advantages and successes in the autogas market, specifically with school buses and landscape equipment. Prospects for the extensions look favorable, according to explanation by NPGA leaders about this year’s issues. Earlier this year, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation (S. 617) that would extend certain expiring provisions. “We’re going to keep fighting for the alternative fuel tax credit,” says Michael Baker, director of legislative affairs at NPGA.

Carbon labeling

The federal government has moved in recent years to more accurately reflect the overall efficiency of consumer appliances through full fuel cycle (FFC) policy. This accounts for national energy consumption (upstream extraction, processing, and transportation or distribution) and emissions to supplement the site (or point of use) energy measurements. Prior to this expanded effort, product efficiencies were required to be measured only at the appliance. Accounting for the full measurement of energy consumption would give clean, efficient propane an advantage over competing energy sources like electricity. The Department of Energy has said it intends to work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make readily available to consumers information on the FFC energy and greenhouse gas emissions of specific products. This would enable consumers to make cross-class comparisons of product energy use and emissions. To help consumers realize the benefits of propane while making their purchasing decisions, NPGA has developed language that would require the FTC to include carbon emissions information on all yellow EnergyGuide labels affixed to consumer appliances. This information is especially important to share with consumers as the nation prioritizes carbon output reduction initiatives, NPGA says. At Propane Days, the industry asked that Congress enact this language.

Clean Corridors Act of 2019

NPGA is asking members to fight for a level playing field when it comes to the alternative fuels represented in the Clean Corridors Act of 2019. Electric and hydrogen infrastructure is receiving preferential treatment in the legislation, introduced earlier this year, according to NPGA. “Tell Congress to not play favorites and provide opportunities for all alternative fuels, including propane,” the association says in its NPGA Reports e-newsletter from May 16. The National Alternative Fuel Corridors program, which was created through the FAST Act in 2015, ordered the Federal Highway Administration to create interstate highway corridors with appropriate signage for alternative fueling stations. The corridors included four alternative fuels: electricity (battery electric vehicles), hydrogen, propane and natural gas. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, introduced S. 674, the Clean Corridors Act of 2019, in March. Among other purposes, the bill would create grant funding opportunities for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along the designated alternative fuel corridors. But under S. 674, propane would not be eligible for grant funding opportunities, says NPGA, which believes that all fuels designated under Section 1413 of the FAST Act should qualify.

DRIVE-Safe Act

A shortage of commercial drivers threatens the industry’s ability to deliver propane efficiently, NPGA says. The association believes the DRIVE-Safe Act will help attract more employees to the transportation sector, which it says is vital to the propane industry’s future. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., sponsored the legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1374), while Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., did the same in the Senate (S. 569). Both bills have strong cosponsor support. The proposed legislation would create an apprenticeship program for commercial drivers. While most states allow for issuing commercial driver’s licenses at the age of 18, federal law restricts drivers under the age of 21 from crossing state lines. The DRIVE-Safe Act would remove this regulation for individuals participating in and completing a two-step apprenticeship program, with the goal of building the truck driving pool before the young job seekers choose other career paths. The DRIVE-Safe Act was part of NPGA’s agenda at the last two Propane Days events, as the industry asked congressional leaders this year to support and cosponsor the legislation.

Jones Act

Passed in 1920, the Jones Act requires goods shipped from U.S. ports to be transported on ships built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. As it stands, there are no cargo vessels capable of transporting propane that can meet these requirements. The propane industry pushed at this year’s Propane Days for a waiver from the Jones Act to secure propane supply when demand spikes. Especially cold winters resulting in peak demand conditions can place pressure on delivery infrastructure in certain areas of the country. For example, propane marketers in New England serve customers via pipelines from the Marcellus Shale region and the U.S. Gulf Coast, rail imports from Canada and waterborne imports from foreign nations. Each of these supply lines has experienced outages in recent years, posing the risk that retailers cannot supply propane to customers in the winter. During the 2018-19 winter, U.S. customers waited for shipments from Norway, Sweden and Malta when a Jones Act waiver would have efficiently served them. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the Protecting Access to American Products Act to expedite the process of obtaining a waiver from the Jones Act for industries like propane that can serve American customers more efficiently and cost effectively without Jones Act restrictions.

About the Author:

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

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