Governor Dayton has issued an emergency order to help stranded motorists caught in Minnesota’s cold wave. Dayton declared a state of emergency Monday. He called on Minnesota’s adjutant general to activate any military personnel needed to help motorists. Dayton noted that a winter storm caused white-out conditions and dangerous wind chills Sunday in central and southern Minnesota. He says several sheriffs asked for help from the Minnesota National Guard to recover and shelter stranded motorists. The National Guard Armory in Olivia had been opened to the public during the blizzard, and many motorists were stranded in Windom as well.
Governor Dayton has declared a state of emergency because of a severe shortage of propane and other home heating fuels statewide. Dayton issued the emergency order Monday calling on the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to activate the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan. State agencies will also be directed to help local governments respond to and recover from the emergency. Minnesota’s adjutant general will be able to order any military forces to active duty to provide emergency relief, and Dayton also instructed Minnesota’s commerce commissioner to use his consumer protection authority to help guard Minnesotans from price gouging. The governor plans to meet with propane industry suppliers today (TUE) to discuss the shortage and how to improve Minnesota’s propane supply.
Rising propane prices are worrying many rural Minnesota residents who count on the fuel to heat their homes amid a bitterly cold winter. Suppliers in the local area were quoting propane prices of $4.75 a gallon by the end of last week. That’s compared to a $1.59 a gallon a year ago. The latest price hike for LP means that it takes about $1,000 to fill a 200-gallon tank, which lasts about three weeks in the current weather conditions. Federal and state lawmakers have been seeking answers in recent weeks for propane price spikes and supply problems.