Beyond the Mains
This is the year of anniversaries, both of them notable and noteworthy in their own way. Congress is celebrating its 2 16th anniversary, a distinguished milestone for longevitywhile the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) proudly celebrates its diamond 75th anniversary for member services and value.
Since NPGAs predecessors formed themselves in 1931 into a formal association, our industry has been under the watch of outside organizations. Congress leads the list and is followed closely by federal regulatory departments. And as you know from your daily business operations, the industry is also affected by dozens of code-making organizations.
The work NPGA has done in the last decade to protect the value of the industry has been immense. By our calculations, we've saved the industry $3.6 billion in compliance costs. That is money that stayed in your pocket and out of governmental coffers.
NPGA and its predecessor associations have been working on your behalf since the beginning. State regulations began in the mid-1930s, followed by increasing federal regulations on railroad transportation of propane later that decade. And code-making organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), began issuing regulations for compressed gas systems as long ago as 1927.
Looking back at old association publications, its remarkable to read about our work 70 years ago to influence NFPA 58, which was first issued in 1932. From our May-June 1939 publication come words that still ring true today: It is interesting to note that every proposal which was approved by our Association was accepted by the NFPA. These rules, therefore, should reflect an accurate consensus of opinion of the industrys views…
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the association maintained a steady watch on developments in the state legislatures. But as the federal government began to increasingly regulate our industry, we recognized that our association needed a more active presence in the nation's capital. To do so, our association leadership moved our East Coast district office from Harrisburg, Pa. to Washington in 1962. And in one form or another, weve been in D.C. ever since.
NPGAs Washington program really took off when the association moved to the capital in 2002. However, in the last 10 years, weve done a lot on the industry's behalf:
NPGA obtained an exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Program rules for retailers and end users through a hard-won 1999 Congressional law. It is estimated this action alone saved the industry over $750 million, or $62,000 per plant.
NPGA successfully lobbied Congress to prohibit the Department of Transportation from establishing attendance procedures requiring a technician at the customers tank and at the truck during deliveries. Stopping the two attendant rule saved $660 million in potential costs.
Just in the last year, NPGAs lobbying and our members work convinced Congress to give the industry the flexibility it needed under the hours-of-service rules. Dozens of industries sought relief, but NPGA was just one of only three industries that prevailed on Capitol Hill.
Weve also achieved savings for the industry outside Washington. NPGA action led to suspension of a requirement in NFPA 58-2001 to require marketers to requalify cylinders in stationary service. That S250 million in industry savings translated into $20,800 per plant.
Weve also put money in your pocket by convincing Congress to include several tax incentives for marketers, such as higher expensing provisions and alternative fuel credits.
This year, we start implementing our new strategic plan. Longer planning allows the association be proactive rather than reactive.
Our intent for the next five years and beyond is simple: NPGA intends to change the laws and regulations to help you sell more gallonsand Exhibit A is NPGAs hard work through standards committees to enable the sale of cabinet heaters.
Of course, well continue on our mission to stop bad laws and regulations. And we will continue building upon the goodwill we've made with Congress through the industrys Capital Awareness Program and Propane Days. Last years very successful Propane Days was a bellwether for the industrys presence on the national scene.
Our new strategic plan calls for us to use the lawmaking and rulemaking process to help you sell more propane. Our market-driven advocacy will be found in many arenas.
We are working to gain acceptance of cabinet heaters within NFPA 58, as well as obtain acceptable rules for composite cylinders. Market research shows that 10 million propane cabinet heaters could be brought into service over the next 20 years. These changes alone have the potential to sell an additional 100 million gallons a year in an entirely new market.
Were also working to eliminate or neutralize tax provisions that favor giving incentives to electric heat pumps. This also has the potential for the industry to sell 100 million more gallons a year to consumers.
We will also extend the tax credits NPGA gained last year through the CLEAR Act to account for the time the Internal Revenue Service takes to implement its guidance rules. We will also take the alternative fuel vehicle tax incentives passed and use them to open up new markets.
Our advocacy work is not limited to Capitol Hill. We are working to persuade EPA to encourage the use of propane on farms as an environmentally-beneficial alternative to chemicals. We are also working to obtain funding from the Department of Agriculture to develop and demonstrate farm sanitation equipment that uses propane. Well also pursue tax incentives for farmers to use propane engines as an alternative to diesel-powered equipment.
These are policy decisions that will help the industry sell millions more gallons of propane to American residential, business, and agricultural customers. These are policy decisions arrived at through the deliberations of NPGAs volunteer board of directors. And these are policy decisions that will help enhance and build our industry over the next 75 years.
I look back at our industry's history and see its trade association build itself up from small and large businesses to a national organization with a strong future ahead. Seventy-five years of value to its membership is something to be proud of. Weve all earned this anniversary and the many more ahead of us.
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