SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Pat Quinn declared an emergency Monday aimed at addressing the lingering shortage of propane.
As the latest blast of frigid air hung over much of Illinois, the governor’s declaration is designed to ease weather-induced distribution problems that have left some industry observers worried that homeowners could run out of the fuel during an upcoming cold snap.
The declaration eases regulations on propane truck drivers in order to allow them to drive into other states to fill their tanks.
For example, an Illinois driver heading to Texas would be able to cross into the state for propane even if they didn’t have proper licenses, said Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette.
(T)his was done because, due to the current propane shortage, additional drivers are needed to travel to Texas to haul propane back to Illinois,” Blanchette said.
In addition, state officials also have lifted limits on how long truckers can operate within a 24 period, in order to allow them to travel further distances to pick up loads.
Midwest propane inventories were affected by a cold, wet fall after farmers used a larger-than-normal amount of the fuel to dry their crops. A combination of that and the recent weeks of cold weather have combined to drive up prices of propane, which is a key home heating fuel in many rural areas.
Quinn’s action came days after state Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, called on the governor to issue the declaration, saying more than 35 percent of the homes in Illinois are heated by propane gas.
“Thousands of Illinoisans are struggling to heat their homes, and many business owners and livestock producers don’t know whether they will be able to access or afford necessary supplies of propane,” McCann said in a statement.