According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 7 percent of Indiana households use liquefied petroleum gases (LPG or propane) to heat their home. In southern Indiana, the vast majority of homes and businesses use propane, especially in rural areas. This winter has been exceptionally cold, highlighting the importance of keeping the flow of propane uninterrupted.

Regionally, the supply of propane was already low, as the fuel is used to keep grain dry after a wet summer.  Now that the weather has turned and stayed colder, high demand has caused shortages.  When fuel becomes scarce, the prices rise, causing even more hardship.  The issue is further compounded by producers’ practice of shipping propane overseas to up profits and creating an even tighter supply domestically. This situation is a serious crisis that demands action by the governor. He and other Midwest governors need to petition federal officials for assistance managing this shortage.

Agricultural businesses and citizens alike are doing without fuel or having propane shipped from out-of-state.  This practice is inefficient and cost-prohibitive.  As a result of the shortage, local residential tanks are being filled before business or agricultural tanks. Although this is a welcome relief to residential areas in need, it imposes a critical burden on many agricultural operations in the area.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an emergency declaration for our region. The action has some effect on delivery of propane but does nothing to help the supply. In response, I have contacted Governor Mike Pence for additional help.  Disruptions in supply at delivery, production, and consumer levels threaten the well-being of the public and our business community. I urged him to take every action possible in order to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of fuel. The situation could turn bad quickly, and with winter far from over, quick action will help families, farmers and businesses get the necessary fuel to stay warm and keep operating.

In the meantime, I urge the public to check on their neighbors who may be dangerously low on heating fuel as the winter progresses.  At this point, conservation of fuel is vital.  Below are several actions you can take to help conserve your propane:

• Use electric blankets and electric space heaters

• Use alternative heat sources such as wood fireplaces

• For cooking, use crock pots, slow cookers or microwave ovens

• Turn down thermostats on hot water heating units

• Turn down furnace thermostats and dress warm while inside homes

As always, I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the issues that matter most to you. Please contact me at (800) 382-9467 or