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Reliable Home Heating Act Coasts Through Congress; Complete Solution Missing

Pat Powers parrots another press release from Rep. Kristi Noem claiming that she led the House in passing the Reliable Home Heating Act. Given that the bill, sponsored by Senator John Thune and co-sponsored by Senator Tim Johnson, coasted through the Senate in May on unanimous consent and yesterday in the House by voice vote, saying Rep. Noem "led" passage is like saying I got the sun to rise by heading west.

The Reliable Home Heating Act isn't a terrible idea. The bill arose from last winter's propane shortage, when South Dakotans and others saw supply dwindle and prices jump due to, among other factors, propane exports growing faster than production and farmers burning up propane to dry a bigger and damper than usual corn crop. It acknowledges that when folks are freezing, we need to move fuel out faster.

Governors can already declare 30-day residential heating fuel emergencies, during which fuel trucks are exempted from certain federal highway safety regulations (specifically, 49 CFR 3 Parts 390–399). The Reliable Home Heating Act authorizes governors to extend those emergencies twice, for a total of 90 days. It also directs the Energy Information Administration to notify governors of possible home heating fuel shortages. In the latter, Rep. Noem, Senator Thune, and the rest of Congress are acknowledging that the market fails, that government has to monitor supplies of vital resources to ensure their proper distribution.

Alas, deregulation and monitoring do not do much to address the fundamental market failures that constrained domestic supply and jacked up prices. Letting bosses require truckers to drive longer without sleep and skipping inspections and maintenance aren't the safest ways to ensure that folks on the reservation don't freeze to death. Helping all South Dakotans afford a reliable supply of propane will take more than some feel-good temporary deregulation.


  1. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.24

    Spend money on upgrading insulation on homes. It is possible to insulate now so that homes won't ever get below 50F even with power failures or loss of fuel. Of course, if that is done, sales tax collection on fuel will drop. With all the unemployment on the reservations, an insulation training program and some community service could prevent the winter catastrophes.

  2. larry kurtz 2014.06.24

    That Dennis Daugaard controls any money going to reservations is patently offensive.

  3. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.24

    Oh, Pleeeeeaze.

    As our electric rates, insurance premiums, and food prices skyrocket, and as savings account interest rates in some parts of the world have actually plunged below zero ... as money keeps flowing out of our pockets, we must wonder into whose pockets that money is going.

    Reliable home heating, affordable medical care, and paperwork reduction acts ... if it weren't hurting so damn many people, it would be laughable.

    No wonder Karl Marx is making a comeback.

  4. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.24

    Maybe not.

    Yegods, let's get that carbon tax going and make it high, so all these horrible things will never happen, all the tornadoes will stop, all the blizzards and floods and droughts and hailstorms and earthquakes and volcanoes ... and we won't have to run around looking at each other's junk.

    At least that way, we can keep home heating unaffordable.

  5. Jerry 2014.06.24

    Agreed Stan, Agreed. The carbon tax is the responsible thing to do and the sooner the better. In your scenario though, there would not be a sight of another's junk, not in a blizzard man.

    Until then, we should be doing more to insulate our homes and businesses to cut down on the usage of energy. Rather than giving someone dollars for a house with holes, why not give the dollars to weatherize it first so the heating and cooling bills are cut. A real money saver in the long run by doing so.

    By the way Stan, your observation about the earthquakes and volcanoes having to do with climate change is correct. As we use up the water below, the ground drops and causes even more pressure on the faults.

  6. Jessie 2014.06.25

    The idea that climate change can cause geologic events is still debated. It's possible that sea-level rise and/or melting ice sheets could cause changes in crustal pressure that might trigger earthquakes or volcanic activity.

    But using up aquifers isn't going to do it. Very few volcanoes pop up through sedimentary rocks anyway.

  7. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.25

    This much I concede: My house is an energy waster, and I should do something about it.

    Climate change is a religion.

    So is teabaggery.

    That hobbit hole in Alaska looks better and better and better every day.

  8. Jerry 2014.06.25

    The first part of each sickness is to recognize the symptoms Stan, bully for you sir. With the right amount of planning and observations, of which I am confident you have, you could make that hobbit hole right there in your home turf.

    Climate change is a fact, religion is not.

    Teabaggery is a cult, that is the flavor of the day.

  9. lesliengland 2014.06.25

    google. today. (CNN) -- New research shows a major section of west Antarctica's ice sheet will completely melt in coming centuries and probably raise sea levels higher than previously predicted, revealing another impact from the world's changing climate.

  10. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.25

    Time for me to turn off the snark generator.

    I will not try to prove that climate change is a hoax. I believe that it is taking place. Moreover, I also believe that human activity is making it happen faster than it would do if people did not exist.

    I also believe that expanding government power, imposing new taxes, and in general hamstringing the U.S. economy will not do anything of significance toward slowing down or stopping climate change. It would be like throwing a cup of water on a five-alarm fire.

    I have no real idea of how we solve this problem, except to cut the world population to 10 percent or less of its current number. That would be like chopping off your head to get rid of a headache. But it would probably work ...

    ... and nature might well do it for us as a result of pollution and global warming. Disease, extreme weather, famines ... and wars over resources such as cropland and water.

    Nor have I any idea of how we can stop perfectly good intellects from prostituting themselves on the alter of political ideologies, other than to do everything in my power to make sure that I don't let my own mind go down that way.

    I believe in climate change just as I believe in Christianity.

    But I do not advocate wrecking the livelhoods of people in order to make them all believe that the Son of Man died on their behalf and then rose again after three days.

    That home improvement will cost me money up front, and I happen to have the cash on hand to do it. It will pay for itself in, I calculate, two years.

    Not everyone is that lucky.

    The Chinese must think we are all one big crew of fools on a ship bent on sinking itself in the name of its own invented morality.

    The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, they have both devolved into religions.

    All religions are cults, say I.

    When you make your brave new world in which toilet paper dispensers have meters on them, my esophagus has a calorimeter in it, eggs and pink slime and sausage are all illegal ... leave me in that hobbit hole in Alaska, and if you come trying to roust me out and take my home from me, expect resistance.

  11. Jerry 2014.06.25

    I do not know about the rest of Madville, but for me, this was as eloquent of a decree as I have ever heard Stan, Bravo!

    One of the most important things I gathered from your decree is that you have optimism for your future. That is a positive mental attitude, nothing can slow you down man!

  12. Bill Dithmer 2014.06.25

    Stan speaks volumes

    The Blindman

  13. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.25

    Stan speaks volumes, but climate change is not religion and seriously considering the consequences of unrestrained human exploitation of fossil fuels is not "believing in" climate change. The phrase "believing in" has an implication of religious nonsense associated with it. One can choose to believe that global warming is equivalent to religion, but it might make more sense in believing human contribution to global warming is a kind of Russian roulette with some odds of complete disaster for human beings. Playing those odds is a bit like actual Russian roulette. It is not a game we need to be playing until the results are so obvious that every brain-dead Republican ideologue mythologist becomes convinced that he is doomed by global climate change after all. Ooops.

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