Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Announce Waiver to Expedite Critical Propane Infrastructure Project

Aug 5, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representative Collin Peterson announced today a waiver that will expedite a critical propane infrastructure project. This announcement comes after Klobuchar, Franken, and Peterson sent a letter to the Army Corp of Engineers to urge their immediate consideration and allow the project to move forward without unnecessary delay.

“The sharp decline in the propane supply this past winter increased prices for families and businesses and put the safety of Minnesotans at risk,” said Klobuchar. “This new terminal will help alleviate the infrastructure and transportation bottleneck that chocked off supply and left insufficient propane supplies for Minnesotans.”

“When the propane crisis hit last winter, I traveled around Minnesota and heard from families and producers about how much it hurt them,” said Franken. “I heard from everyone— from homeowners who couldn’t afford to heat their homes to turkey growers who couldn’t heat their barns. This new project will help bring much-needed propane to Minnesota.”

"Last winter's propane shortage meant Minnesotans paid near record prices to heat their homes and left many facing uncertainty about propane access in the future," Peterson said. "The waiver will allow this project to move forward, helping address the barriers that caused the propane shortage by increasing propane supplies in advance of the fall and winter season."

The proposed project is being put forward by Dooley Petroleum of Benson. It includes the installation of a railroad unloading track capable of storing one million gallons of propane to resupply their existing 1.5 million gallon terminal facility. Any delays in the project could jeopardize the supply of propane available crop drying and heating season this winter.

Last winter, the Midwest experienced a major shortage in propane that caused a drastic spike in price.  More than 200,000 households in Minnesota rely on propane as their main source of heat.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is below:

Dear Lieutenant General Bostick:

We are writing to request your assistance and immediate consideration of an application for a permit recently submitted by Dooley Petroleum of Benson, Minnesota, an affiliate of Alliance Energy Services, so that a critical propane infrastructure project in our state can move forward without unnecessary delay. 

The need for this project emerged suddenly as households and businesses in Minnesota saw significant spikes in the price of propane fuels during last winter’s severe cold. An estimated 230,000 farms, homes, and businesses may lose access to propane supply as Kinder Morgan’s Cochin pipeline flow is reversed. 

With nearly 40 percent of the state’s propane flowing through the Cochin pipeline, our constituents may be left without the fuel necessary to heat their homes and keep their livestock and poultry barns warm if additional supply of propane is not ready to replace the lost fuel. These propane infrastructure changes, combined with increased competition for limited rail cars, have further exacerbated the logistical issues many Minnesota distributors have faced in storing and sourcing the propane needed to heat homes and operate grain dryers.

The proposed project includes the installation of a railroad unloading track capable of storing one million gallons of propane to resupply their existing 1.5 million gallon terminal facility.  If the proposed project is not constructed and operational by September, there will not be sufficient supplies of propane available to meet crop drying and home heating needs. The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed timeline of up to 120 days for completing the permit process will not allow the project to be operational by this September.

We all agree that we must do everything we can to prevent a propane shortage like our state faced last winter.  Minnesotans also take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that our natural resources are maintained and protected for future generations to enjoy.  That’s why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and Swift County all have protections in place to ensure that any negative impacts by this project are mitigated and procedures are delineated in the project to protect these resources. 

During your review of the pending permit application, we urge you and your staff to work closely with the relevant stakeholders and state and local government agencies, especially when permits have already been granted to the project.  The Corps of Engineers, the project sponsors and the American taxpayer all benefit when we eliminate duplicative or redundant permitting on a project that has already met a standard for protection that is equal to or stronger than the federal level of project. 

The construction of the new terminal will prove critical in providing timely propane delivery while guaranteeing storage to adequately supply home heating and agricultural needs this fall and winter but only if the project is completed in time. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.