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OKLAHOMA CITY - Just two days after Senator Kelly Haney initiated an inquiry into skyrocketing propane prices, Governor Frank Keating has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for action to protect Oklahoma consumers.
"I'm glad to have the Governor on board," said Senator Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "If we present a united front, I think we'll stand a much better chance of getting Oklahoma consumers the relief they deserve."
On Wednesday, the Seminole legislator urged the U.S. Congress, specifically the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation, to launch an immediate inquiry into the propane market, hoping they could lower propane costs or at the very least, put a lid on price increases.
"Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. I'm pleased Governor Keating has gotten involved and is using the power of the executive branch to help me get a handle on this thing for consumers," said Senator Haney.
Following Senator Haney's lead, Governor Keating faxed a letter to the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation today, urging members to take a close look at the propane issue.
"Unfortunately, our hands are tied on the state level so we're having to look to federal government for help. I don't normally like to interfere in the operation of private industry, but when it involves something as vital as heating fuel, there isn't much choice," said Senator Haney.
"By necessity, propane is the heating fuel of choice in many rural Oklahoma homes. With prices so high, a lot of Oklahomans, especially elderly people on fixed incomes, are struggling just to heat their houses and stay warm. With the cold snap we're experiencing now, it's literally a life or death issue.
"This issue demands immediate action."
If the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation doesn't produce some tangible results soon, the Senate budget leader said he will be prepared to go to Washington himself to see what can be done about the propane price crisis.
"People out there are hurting and they deserve some answers. I'll do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this," added Senator Haney.
Propane costs have more than doubled since last fall. Industry spokesmen have blamed the prices hikes on such things as increased demand and low reserves, but Senator Haney is skeptical.
"If someone is making a huge profit by squeezing the people when they need heat the most, there's going to be a reckoning. People shouldn't be getting rich off such a basic necessity as heat," concluded Senator Haney.