Propane industry unifies to confront decarbonization movement

March 12, 2020 By    

If the early part of 2020 has indicated anything about where the propane industry is headed this year and beyond, look no further than terms like “climate,” “environment” and “renewable.”

Industry leaders are – to take a page out of this year’s Propane Expo tagline – “Setting the Tone for Propane” when it comes to positioning propane in a crowded energy field.

While one could argue the industry’s strategy has been slow to develop, it’s no doubt exciting to consider the prospects of propane fitting even more into the nation’s discussion on clean energy solutions – in a presidential election year, no less.

To be fair, industry leadership was in transition with the hiring last fall of new National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) President and CEO Steve Kaminski. The association seemed to recognize a need to refocus its vision.

Kaminski’s influence could already be felt during his first official board of directors meeting in February. He presented on the industry’s need to confront the decarbonization narrative that’s spreading across the country rapidly. That narrative elevates electricity, contains negative fossil fuel sentiment and serves as an impetus for local communities to consider gas moratoriums and bans.

NPGA is taking steps to counter this electrify-everything movement, from sitting on a gas ban consortium to putting its state engagement team to work tracking threats to collaborating with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and state executives to formulate a strategic approach.

In its effort to learn more about how to counteract the electrify-everything movement and misinformation, NPGA hired a firm called Stratacomm to assess any data gaps. Included in the findings: Propane’s opposition groups are controlling the “emotional high ground.” While the propane industry is rich in technical content, it lacks the emotional statements that resonate with the public.

“We have to get more engaged in thinking emotionally,” says Stuart Weidie, president and CEO of Blossman Gas. “We have facts and data on our side, but we have to take the next step.”

One of the most notable tactics coming out of the winter meeting in Arizona was NPGA’s creation of, what Kaminski called, a “stopgap toolkit of materials” for states to use in grassroots campaigns. Kaminski admits they’re not perfect, but they give the industry a short-term solution to combat the local bills.

“In addition to arming marketers with materials, we’re going to be pushing propane friendly lawmakers to introduce bills protecting consumers’ energy choice,” Kaminski says.

Council collaboration

Meanwhile, on PERC’s side, an environmental task force has conducted its own research into how propane fares in this field. Subgroups looked at energy opponents and electrify-everything myths, and how successfully the industry communicates its environmentally friendly messages with policymakers, influencers and consumers.

Weidie leads the task force and calls the collaboration between PERC and NPGA the best he’s seen in 15 years. Always an outspoken member of the industry, Weidie seems to have ramped up his messages even more, to communicate the urgency of the situation.

“We are being diminished because we don’t defend ourselves,” says Weidie, also a PERC council member.

PERC has begun to roll out materials and tools, including a new environmentally focused section of, to highlight propane’s environmental benefits.

The council’s communications team is also executing a proactive media tactic as a way to get propane’s pro-environmental message into the mainstream media. The tactic, called newsjacking, allows PERC and the states to insert their messages into a breaking news or trending story and become part of the energy conversation.

As part of a longer-term industry strategy, NPGA and PERC are looking to combine their findings and develop a set of unified messages and themes for consumers and policymakers.

This story has only just begun.

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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