Region asks for more federal help to deal with propane shortage

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and six other governors from the region sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him for help to address the propane shortage and price spikes.

The Associated Press reports the administration is asking for help to increase propane supplies through "every means of transport."

The letter said states are thankful for the recent efforts by their federal partners, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' expedited release of Fiscal Year 2014 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds and also for the U.S. Department of Transportation's previous hours of service waiver.

The letter was sent through the Midwest Governors Association. It was signed by Dayton, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Ohio Gov John Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The letter asks the government to explore regulatory waivers aimed at increasing the supply of propane "in our states," including extending the hours of service waiver and temporarily waiving weight limits on the interstate highway system.

Propane levels in Minnesota have leaders so concerned, last week, they began preparing to open warming shelters. Tuesday state officials also asked farmers to consider selling some of their surplus propane back to suppliers, according to the St. Cloud Times.

The newspaper says Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and the Minnesota Propane Association hope the move helps to address the shortage.

Dayton also signed an executive order on Tuesday to increase the income limits for heating assistance eligibility in Minnesota, according to FOX 9. The move is estimated to help 120,000 more households cope with the high propane costs.

FOX 9 says the action extends eligibility for heating assistance from 50 percent of the state median income to 60 percent. That means the household of four earning less than $52,370 per year will now be eligible for heating assistance.

The state has created a hotline for those with questions about the propane situation to call. It has received hundreds of calls each day.

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