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Jim Heitz, Lignite, N.D., Published February 07 2014

Letter: Blame ethanol for propane shortage

To anyone wondering why there is a shortage of propane and a doubling and tripling of the price this year, one need look no further than the 2007 government mandate on ethanol production. Consequently, farmers planted record acres of corn in the spring of 2013. In fact, they planted corn in places they have never planted corn before. Corn was planted so far north that it didn’t ripen and mature before winter set in.

In a normal year, propane is put into storage in September, October and November in anticipation of the winter heating season. But this year, that propane was used to dry corn that was immature and wet.

You can’t blame the farmers for planting more corn to take advantage of the fact that about 30 percent of our corn crop is used to make ethanol. But we certainly don’t need to make things worse by allowing the corn lobby to convince the EPA to raise the current mandated level of ethanol production and also raise the level of corn alcohol in ethanol from the current 10 percent, E10 to 15 percent, E15.

The EPA has proposed lowering the future level of mandated ethanol production, but the corn lobby opposes this.

The EPA is currently taking comments on this lower level of future mandated ethanol production. Let them know your opinion.