The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation March 4 by voice vote that provides some relief for those impacted by propane shortages. The Home Heating Emergency Assistance through Transportation (HHEATT) Act, H.R. 4076, would provide a guaranteed extension of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s emergency declarations until May 31, 2014.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has already issued temporary emergency declarations to allow tank truck operators delivering propane and other home heating fuels to drive for longer hours to speed up deliveries to the affected states. However, these declarations can only last 30 days at a time. H.R. 4076 provides a guaranteed extension of the DOT’s emergency declarations until May 31, 2014. The legislation will provide the certainty needed for states to better address critical heating fuel transportation and distribution issues.
In a statement from House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), he said the bill is backed by both parties, and “Senate Democrats should waste no time in sending it to the president’s desk.”
“The propane shortage has threatened the lives and livelihoods of families across South Dakota and throughout the nation who rely on propane heat,” added Rep. Kristi Noem, (R., S.D.). “This winter’s bitterly cold temperatures increased demand, but transportation and distribution issues disrupted the supply chain. I’m hopeful this legislation will help to get propane to homes, farms and businesses more quickly. Doing so could be life-saving and so I urge the Senate to quickly take up and pass this legislation.”
In February 2014, Noem joined a bipartisan coalition of Midwest lawmakers to send a letter to the Energy and Commerce Committee leadership to request a hearing that would examine the current propane shortage crisis, the long term outlook of Midwestern supply and potential solutions to the problem.