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MULHERN GAS, FIFTH GENERATION PROPANE COMPANY IN NEW YORK, LEADING THE FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE OF PROPANE

Written on: March 6, 2024

Mulhern Gas was founded in 1918 and has been run by members of the Cummings family from the beginning. As of 2015, five generations of Cummings family members have been employed by the company. In addition to being known for excellent personalized service by 3,000 customers in the Hudson, New York area, Mulhern Gas is becoming more and more known throughout the propane gas industry for its leadership at both the state and national level to strongly represent propane in the face of challenges.

For 20 years, Mulhern Gas President Rick Cummings has also served as Chairman of the New York Propane Gas Association Legislative Committee. “It has always been important that we as an industry band together,” Cummings said. “We have a super product and a great story to tell.” Nonetheless, the political landscape in New York, with a strong Democratic Party majority, has for a long time had a very anti-fossil fuel stance, according to Cummings.

“There have always been major legislative issues, but New York’s ‘Electrify Everything’ movement has dwarfed all of them,” Cummings told Trending in Propane. “We have ‘One-Party Rule’ here in New York. All the anti-fossil fuel legislation is couched in the phrase “Cleaner Environment.” Cummings acknowledged that most U.S. states do not have the political landscape that New York has and that not all retail propane marketers across the country feel as threatened as those in New York. “We are fighting for our survival,” Cummings said. “The political realities in New York have caused us to have to up our game.”

“When leaders of the New York Propane Gas Association sat down to figure out how to proceed, we determined that we needed to educate the voter,” Cummings said. “We decided that a three-pronged approach would be best. That is, an approach that encompassed a legislative/lobbying component, a legal component, and a public education component. As such, one of first things we did was develop a website that shows propane playing a role in cleaning the environment. We are not the problem, but the solution. People love propane. The public doesn’t want a forced change.”

Later, with the passage of a NYS law banning the use of fossil fuel appliances in new construction beginning in 2026, Mulhern Gas, the New York Propane Gas Association, the National Propane Gas Association, several trade unions, and other like-minded plaintiffs were compelled to file suit against the State of New York to overturn the ban and protect the interests of NYS propane consumers.

Cummings noted that they were fortunate early on to retain the legal firm that successfully argued against a similar ban executed in Berkeley, California. Cummings is cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the suit. “While we feel it would be great to win, we know that if we lose this case, two courts with differing opinions provide a chance to take the case to the Supreme Court.” Cummings expects numerous preliminary motions and arguments to continue through 2024 and possibly into 2025.

In the meantime, work continues on the organization’s website. “We continue to build on our interaction with residents,” he said. “62,000 letters have been sent to legislators, roughly a half-million people have visited the website at smarternyenergy.org and other fossil fuels as well as equipment manufacturers have been supportive.” He noted Rich Goldberg, President of Warm Thoughts Communications, for his role in leading the grass roots communications efforts.

“The New York Propane Gas Association has been punching above its weigh class,” Cummings said. “The National Propane Gas Association has been a big help to the State of New York. We appreciate Steve (Kaminski) and all in Washington.”

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