Northey urges propane purchases

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is suggesting that rural residents buy some propane sooner rather than later, because supplies of that fuel may be tight when the winter heating season begins.

Northey said Saturday night that propane inventories at the supply point in Conway, Kan., that Iowa must rely on are ”as low as they’ve been at this time of the year as they’ve been in recent history.”

He said the pipeline that used to deliver 13 percent of Iowa’s supply of propane is now being used to move other products. The loss of that pipeline is forcing Iowa to rely on the Kansas supply point.

This year’s bountiful corn crop is Iowa is compounding the propane issue. Northey said corn growers are on track to have a large crop, and added that the corn in the state’s northwest area is maturing a bit slower than that in the rest of Iowa. That means that a fairly large amount of propane will be used this fall to dry corn, he said.

Northey added that federal regulators may be ready to relax a proposed change in the Renewable Fuels Standard that would have required less ethanol to be used.

”There’s a good chance of it being better than the first EPA proposal, but still not as good as it originally was,” he said, referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He said uncertainty over the Renewable Fuels Standard is preventing any expansion of the ethanol industry.