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Minnesota's 'critical' propane shortage draws national attention

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Gov. Mark Dayton and members of the state's congressional delegation are calling for immediate action to address the critical propane shortage.

KSTP reports Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan are asking the administration to knock down regulatory barriers and to take additional steps to alleviate the shortage.

The shortage is hitting farmers especially hard.

The Star Tribune reports that agriculture uses about 30 percent of Minnesota's propane.

On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, "With the onset of severely cold weather over the past weeks, propane supplies in the Midwest are extremely tight."

According to the Star Tribune, turkey producers are particularly concerned about the propane shortage. Minnesota is the nation's leading turkey-producing state.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association executive director, Steve Olson, told the Star Tribune fuel suppliers say there is about "five days of propane left. The big concern is availability."

Olson said young turkeys require 90-degree heat, while full-sized birds need temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees. Olson said growers have not dialed down on the thermostat, but Olson says that's "going to be the last resort."

The Star Tribune reports the hog and dairy industries are also concerned about the propane supplies.

"I've heard from folks who've been told by suppliers that they don't know where their next load of propane is coming from," said Minnesota Pork Producers Association executive director, David Preisler, to the Star Tribune.

Some producers have attempted to find alternate suppliers only to be told the suppliers are not taking new business.

According to Reuters, many suppliers are now rationing supplies.

Not only are the supplies running short, but prices have surged to record highs and that also could have some homeowners who heat with propane in for a shock.

Reuters said in just the last week, the price has more than doubled to around $4.30 a gallon.

The Energy Department says 5.5 million households heat with propane mostly in the Midwest and the South.

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