State response to propane shortage more than adequate

As Michigan has joined many of its neighboring states in struggling through a difficult propane shortage this winter, the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder seems to have been particularly responsive.

Snyder has combined several state agencies into a collaborative responding to the situation on several fronts, producing effective results. Representatives from the collaborative recently traveled to the centrally-located Escanaba area to assess the progress of the response. Snyder contacted local media to discuss the measures he’s taken with the help of the collaborative or the state Legislature to address the problem. Snyder also urged federal officials, including President Barack Obama, to take action on the issue.

Snyder and members of the collaborative provided information for the public to make sure residents knew about available funding to aid low-income residents, veterans and propane suppliers in purchasing propane. They have also worked to increase supplies to the area from other parts of the country and the state attorney general’s office was promptly investigating reports of propane price gouging.

The clear message the Snyder administration was trying to convey, especially in an election year, was that the governor was on the job. That’s great. When a crisis occurs that’s exactly where the state’s chief executive should be, as close to what’s occurring as possible. About the only thing we didn’t see was Snyder filling a propane tank in the backyard of a thankful homeowner.

This effort is especially welcomed considering the area most prominently affected by the skyrocketing prices resulting from the low supplies is the Upper Peninsula, an area with a relatively small number of constituents and a place situated a considerable distance from Lansing. About 9 percent, or 300,000 households, in Michigan heat their homes primarily with propane.

Snyder has responded favorably in previous perilous situations in the region involving floods and fire. However this situation – perhaps because it is occurring during the deep dead of one of the coldest winters in our recent past – appears to be more demanding of a thorough response, especially given the potential ability for the shortage to affect a large number of the U.P.’s most vulnerable citizens.

A confluence of several factors -ranging from the cold winter to foreign sales of propane cutting domestic supply to propane used to dry corn last fall to low stockpiles heading into winter and facility shutdowns- combined to produce the propane shortage. State officials said the crisis was now easing on the supply side, with hopes retail prices would soon follow wholesale prices in their downward trajectory.

We think the Snyder administration has responded admirably to the propane shortage and we hope the governor and state officials will continue to deliver this type of action until the crisis has fully abated and to all of Michigan’s citizens whatever the call, wherever they are. That’s what being governor is all about.