Verbatim Column

What’s one thing happening in the world right now that may impact our industry?

I am not sorry I asked this one big question. People in our industry have strong opinions. Here we learn of their concerns at the beginning of 2020. Borrowed from a familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we instead offered our responders a chance to reply via e-mail allowing them to be thoughtful, bold, and direct. What you are reading here are their personal opinions, in BPN’s new column VERBATIM.

You may agree or not with these opinions. They come from geographically diverse areas around the country yet share a common theme. (Except for minor grammatical corrections, these are VERBATIM from our propane industry colleagues.) Are they fed up? Optimistic? Angry? Concerned? Philosophical? Pragmatic? Fatalistic? Read on. They are real opinions.

From The West

Although I read about world events daily the main impacts to our industry in California are coming from the legislators in Sacramento that want to outlaw the use of all carbon based fuels in this state. (This is no joke.) There are about 50 cities in California that are proposing to make electricity the only energy source to be used in all new construction. It’s an interesting concept since the major electric utility in Northern Calif. says they will be shutting off the electricity at various times for the next, possibly, ten years while they upgrade their distribution system.  What happens in California, regrettably, doesn’t stay in California.

Chuck Kinnie
Shasta Gas Propane
Palo Cedro, California

The under-estimated support of propane from our customers. Only the media and politicians talk about eliminating all fossil fuels.  Thankfully, the people of America think differently.

Julie Johnson
Ted Johnson Propane Co.
Baldwin Park, California

This is an obvious one thing. It is the carbonization issue that is in most of the state and federal legislators’ bills that have been presented and are going to be presented. Electrifying our energy in the U.S. will squeeze a lot of our business down over time and Cap and Trade will help drive our products costs up to help the Electrification.

John Kamps
Kamps Propane
Manteca, California

To The Interior

If the tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate to armed conflict world oil prices could rapidly increase.  The U.S. should not face supply problems but world increase in price could affect our industry and customer base.

Dan Binning
Colorado and New Mexico Propane Gas Associations
Arvada, Colorado

I believe one thing happening in the world that will impact the propane industry, unfortunately not in a good way, is the expansion of wind turbines and solar.

T. Brad Duncan
All Around Propane
Fruitland, New Mexico

Climate Change politics. Some politicians are attempting to eliminate propane appliances and implement cap and trade policies without knowledge of the impact on business, their employees or the limitations and collateral consequences of wind and solar.

Boyd H. McGathey
Energy Distribution Partners
Parkville, Missouri

The American workforce is rapidly evolving. Our ability to hire, train and retain the right people is critical to our future success.

Jason Soulon
Westmor Industries
Shawnee, Kansas

Decarbonization! Worldwide efforts to decrease carbon emissions is a threat to our industry. The opportunity for our industry is there if we put the time, money and effort into educating our regulatory bodies and the general public about the positive environmental implications of using propane in place of other energy sources.

Lauren Clark
Bergquist, Inc.
Toledo, Ohio

One thing happening in the world right now is the acceptance of the idea that fossil fuels are destroying our environment with the best solution to replace anything requiring petroleum with electricity. If we allow the trend of accepting a theory without solid scientific proof and a solution that is not well documented as to the environmental impact, our industry could face some severe consequences.

Gary France
France Propane Service
Schofield, Wisconsin

I think that the current “decarbonization” movement is having the most impact on the fuel gas industry right now. With cities and even states considering abolishing even the installation of gas piping in buildings, the threat to the propane industry is real and imminent. NPGA and PERC are working together to counter this threat by developing educational materials and a message that will bring to light facts on the shortcomings of the electric industry infrastructure and its overlooked impact on the environment. We must educate our industry and the public while deploying the grass roots power of the propane industry to overcome this serious threat.

Bruce Swiecicki
NPGA (National Propane Gas Association)
Tinley Park, Illinois

Without a doubt, climate change will continue to impact our industry. All industries will continue to see increased public pressure to curb carbon emissions. On the bright side, it should provide an opportunity for us to promote propane as a low-carbon “green” energy solution and illustrate how other “clean” energies, like electricity, aren’t as clean as people may perceive them to be.

Don Montroy
Bergquist, Inc.
Rockford, Michigan

I believe we are now experiencing a more impactful influence on the propane industry, (and business climate in general), than we have ever been exposed to in the past.  The current political climate seems to be so much more divisive and potentially explosive than we have ever experienced.  We are seeing almost all new business, investment, and financial decisions only made after careful consideration of what may happen in the near term future political elections and how that election’s outcome will impact us.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any solutions for this.  We can only hope that these political divides will heal so that we can go back to worrying about the weather and other comparatively mundane issues that have been part of our decision making processes in the past.

Milt Swenson
Westmor Industries
Morris, Minnesota

And To Eastern States

This absurd movement to eliminate fossil fuels and the belief that electricity is the answer to everything! The construction of any new coal power plant just adds to the contribution of   C02 in the atmosphere causing long term permanent damage to our climate.  We need fossil fuels to avoid further environmental damage, particularly propane which is environmentally friendly and decreases emissions preventing global warming.

Hayley Karicofe
Churchville, Virginia

If I had to pick one thing in the world right now that will truly effect our industry, it would have to be the climate change movement. In my little corner of the world where we think we can create a total utopia for all, the train is running full steam ahead! We seem to be bound and determined to enact the New Green Deal first!!  Vermont wants to be carbon free by 2025 and they are willing to — eliminate locations, fine, tax and fee us into it!!! As this beast takes hold and make no mistake once the finger is pulled out of the dam there is no stopping it, our fuel industry will never be the same. Fewer gallons means less money to the wholesalers – less fuel through the pipeline – less productions and reduced exports!!  In my humble opinion, silence is agreement and it is our responsibility to have our voices heard before it’s too late.

Judy Taranovich
Proctor Gas
Proctor, Vermont

The biggest right now is the ELECTRIFY EVERYTHING movement.  The New York Governor wants Zero-Carbon electric by 2040.  Several Massachusetts localities are holding votes to ban building new homes with Oil or Gas.  And of course there is the Green New Deal.  It all could significantly impact our industry.

Mike Hopsicker
Ray Murray Inc.
Lee, Massachusetts

I feel the most threatening issue we, as an industry, face today is that of the legislative activity taking place in the state governments to address CO2 and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Throughout the last 24 months, every state government has introduced and/or adopted a piece of legislation that will directly affect our industry’s ability to effectively market and sell our product. A recent example of this would be the state of New York, while there are many details included in the Governor’s spending plan, he started his presentation with his top 10 budget points for 2020; most aggressive climate change agenda in the country. This is an issue that our entire industry must not only be aware of and educated on but stand together to guaranty LPG’s future.

Milissa Lord
A.R.M. Solutions
Towanda, Pennsylvania

One of the areas that will impact our industry is the rapid development of energy sources that will compete with propane. We need, as an industry, to recognize what is being developed and stay one step ahead.

Laurie Irish-Jones
Irish Propane
Buffalo, New York

Summing It Up

There is no denying a theme that propane faces serious contests from multiple challengers including other fuel sources, political machines, legislative bodies, workforce issues, communities and states, to name some. Amongst these responses are some calls to action and suggestions of potential solutions. Clearly with obstacles on this scale, solutions will require massive engagement from those who most want to be a part of propane’s viability as an American fuel source. In addition to our customers, does this include you, our reader?

Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates

This column was first published in the March 2020 issue of Butane-Propane News.

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— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT