House legislators are asking leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to review the cause of recent propane supply issues, the outlook of Midwestern supplies and potential solutions to the problem.
Nearly 40 Congressmen and women signed on to the letter Friday, addressed to Reps. Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield.
"As you may know, households and businesses across the Midwest have seen significant spikes in the price of propane fuels during the severe winter cold. Any further reduction in supply threatens to leave our constituents without the fuel necessary to heat their homes and to keep livestock and poultry barns warm," the legislators noted in the letter.
The request comes shortly after other groups of lawmakers have raised concerns about propane shortages; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, requested that the Federal Trade Commission review propane issues, suggesting that the FTC "remain vigilant in overseeing the propane market prevent possible anti-competitive behavior or illegal manipulation."
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., had a similar request for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission: "Given the CFTC's prior findings of manipulation in the propane market, it is critical that the government continue to ensure rural Americans that they not being harmed by opportunistic trading and price manipulation," McCaskill said late last month.
The Energy Information administration reports that average U.S. residential propane prices have risen to $3.89 per gallon for the week of Feb. 3, up from $2.80 in the last week of December but down from $4.01 during the week of Jan. 27.
Prices are higher in some Midwestern states, as noted in the EIA graphic below.
EIA said that the propane shortage may have several drivers, one being the wet fall that caused higher propane demand for grain drying. Following the fall, EIA says, propane supplies were not fully replenished.