Obama, Walker talk propane shortage

File photo.
File photo.

Wisconsin propane suppliers are suffering from the shortage, paying more than three times the regular price.

Milton Propane's president John Arndt told FOX 11 his outlets across the state are feeling the pinch.

"We're maintaining about half our supply, so we're supplying about half of what the customer needs," Arndt explained.

But Governor Scott Walker asked President Obama for help and the governor told FOX 11 the president came through. Walker told us he spoke with one of Obama's advisors Thursday morning.

"We went through the list I sent to the president and checked off all the things I'd asked for assistance on. They're acting on it, our partners are, so we're glad to see that," Walker explained.

Walker thanked the president in person when Obama landed in Milwaukee about an hour after that phone call.

"The federal government's gonna help us out with rail service and some other federal restrictions," Walker said.

Walker told us the Obama administration also set aside $450 million to go to state's low income home energy assistance programs.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin itself put $8 million into lines of credit to help propane distributors pay for more supplies up front.

Walker also called Texas Governor Rick Perry Thursday.

"I thanked him for lifting some weight restrictions to help get propane out of the state of Texas," Walker explained.

But Arndt told us he's concerned greater propane exports are causing the problem.

"That's leaving the country at about twice the rate of what we're consuming," Arndt said.

Walker told us that is one of many factors, but exports have diminished in recent weeks.

'That's something to look at long-term, but by and large they're not shipping it out of the country, they're shifting it to other markets," the governor explained.

According to Walker, in the future there will need to be investigations into those exports and possible price gouging, but not now.

"My number one objective is just getting it. I don't care what we have to pay, we need to get it into people's tanks," said the governor.

Arndt said he appreciates any help, but doesn't expect complete relief until it warms up.

"48 days til spring," he said.

The state Department of Administration said Thursday it expects the price of propane to start to dip in the next few days from its $7 peak. A couple of weeks ago the average price was less than $3 a gallon.