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Posts Tagged ‘propane shortage’

Propane Surplus (Not Shortage)

We’ll be at the Farm to Fork Market at Normandy Farms this Saturday, February 1.  Betsy’s Kitchen will be offering Paleo Almond Delight Power Bars, Paleo bread, and a return of the Paleo Sweet Potato Donuts.

Now on to my message.  It’s a slight break from my farm messages but I’m really annoyed.  I’m sure that you’ve heard that there is a propane shortage.  There are varying reasons for the shortage.  Grain farmers used more propane than usual to dry a wet harvest last fall.  A pipeline was shut down for maintenance.  Some of us have used more propane in this super cold winter.  The oil and gas companies increased their exports of propane.

Did you catch that last part?  The oil and gas companies increased their “exports” of propane.  The U.S. gets most of its propane as a by-product of natural gas production.  Natural gas production in the U.S. is booming thanks to new ways to extract natural gas from shale formations.  With plenty of natural gas comes plenty of propane.  Propane prices were falling early in 2013 thanks to a plentiful supply and earlier mild winters.  Prices were higher overseas so the oil and gas companies shipped their cheap propane across the water for higher prices.  They bet, albeit wrongly, on continued low domestic use of propane and made some extra money shipping their propane overseas.  Since they bet wrong, and we used more propane and are now facing a shortage, the oil and gas companies are making even more money charging higher prices to U.S. consumers due to the shortage.

I went through all of the ways we, as a society, could reduce our usage of propane.  Don’t grow so much corn that really goes into unhealthy food products and cheap livestock feed.  Don’t raise animals out of season or raise hardier breeds, reducing the need to heat swine and poultry confinement barns.  Switch to more renewable and sustainable fuels for home heating.  The problem with these solutions is that they would all reduce the use of propane, which would again lead to a surplus, which would lead to more exports and then another shortage when we really need the propane again.

Here at Full Circle Farm, we use propane to heat our house and for cooking.  Thankfully, we had a fill up early in the month at reasonable prices.  We can turn down our thermostat, break out the space heaters and extra blankets, and eke through the shortage if we push it.  Unfortunately, others are not so lucky and are already having serious problems heating their homes.

This isn’t a propane shortage.  It’s mismanagement of a propane surplus.

Full Circle Farm. Working with Nature.

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