Propane Shortage not my Problem: federal Minister of Natural Resources
Here is an article from the New York Times about the U.S. situation:
Three things we could do to prepare for the next time this happens:
1) Local Storage: one person I know owns a large tank that only needs to be filled up once a year. It’s a good amount of money up front, but proved to be great insurance for what happened this year. This idea can be extended to encouraging (perhaps through tax incentives) the creation of regional propane storage facilities
2) Conservation: The Eco-energy retrofit program was a program to encourage homeowners and businesses to retrofit buildings and make them more energy efficient. It was cancelled by the Conservative government
3) Alternative Energy: Give incentives for rural residents to have backup sources of heating such as modern clean and efficient wood stoves. Encourage the growth of the (wood/switchgrass/agricultural or forest residue) pellet industry.
Many rural constituents in Kingston & the Islands, and others across eastern Ontario, have contacted me to let me know about a propane shortage and, later, about price spikes. Many rural Ontarians rely on propane to heat their houses, farms or businesses, and this shortage has meant that they went without heat during a cold January. Others have opened their bills to find a sharp jump in their cost of propane heat.
This is a tough issue because it straddles provincial and federal jurisdiction. I think that when issues come up that fall under both federal and provincial jurisdiction, all levels of government should work together to devise a solution.
The Ontario Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, has requested a teleconference with Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and other Provincial and Territorial Ministers’ responsible for energy to discuss the propane shortage. It’s important to work together to identify why these shortages are happening and to take action to reduce the risk of future shortages. So far, the federal Minister has only asked the National Energy Board and the federal Competition Bureau to “review propane market issues”.
Yesterday I rose in the House of Commons to ask the Minister of Natural Resources what he will do to protect rural Canadians who heat their homes with propane. (short link: http://youtu.be/pdQuhBNT1iU )
I was disappointed to see Minister Oliver pass the buck, saying that “it is within provincial jurisdiction to regulate distribution and pricing of propane.”
The federal Minister of Natural Resources has the power to intervene under the Energy Supplies Emergency Act, which gives him the “means to conserve the supplies of energy within Canada during periods of national emergency caused by shortages or market disturbances affecting the national security and welfare and the economic stability of Canada.”
As people across eastern Ontario deal with a diminishing propane supply and skyrocketing prices, we need leadership. I expect to see just that from the Minister.