Written on: January 18, 2023
By Pat Thornton, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Last week, the New York Times published an article which criticized the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) as anti-climate. In addition to that article, many other articles such these found here, here and here, were published with no fact-checking, no further research and no invitation for rebuttal.
PERC published a response, found here on its website and in an email released to industry members later in the week last week. In addition to providing many factual corrections about details of what PERC has funded and whether PERC actions are in line with the PERA act which established PERC, the Council stated that PERC is not anti-electrification, it is pro-decarbonization.
Despite false claims that funds were somehow moved away from such intended purposes as safety and research to an “unintended” purpose of marketing, original plans for PERC before the agreement by industry members and Congress in 1996 showed a clear intent that marketing would be a very key purpose of the check-off program. The PERC check-off program was modeled after several check-off programs in the agriculture sector such as the beef checkoff program and the pork checkoff program. “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” has been a memorable slogan promoting beef for many years. Like beef, propane has had branding campaigns designed by PERC centered around several themes, “Propane, Exceptional Energy”, “Propane, Clean American Energy” and “Energy for Everyone.” PERC was originally conceptualized by industry leaders frustrated that funds were always limited to promote new uses for propane. The idea that PERC is somehow violating its original intended purpose is ridiculous. Key benefits of propane and renewable propane include bringing lower carbon solutions to the marketplace and promoting decarbonization.
While other publications are more than happy to reprint the New York Times article or write their own article with heavy reference to the article, maybe the Times has presented an opportunity for the propane industry to further explain its thought process to other publications willing to share it with those willing to listen. We are not anti-electrification, but pro-decarbonization. As Tucker Perkins, PERC President and CEO has been saying though, electrification of everything is not the total answer, especially if we want energy security for everyone. It is fair to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various energy options as well as their true full fuel cycle impact on the environment in a national energy conversation. The grid has shown its vulnerabilities as it continues to depend on natural gas and coal for power as wind and solar have generation and transmission limitations. The electric grid is not durable enough to handle mass EV and heat pump adoption, sabotage, cyberattack or extreme weather. Who is called on quickly when the grid goes down? Well…, it’s propane. Many of you have taken those urgent calls! Battery-electric vehicle growth will require rare earth minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. China now controls 75% of the lithium battery market and it takes more than seven years to develop a lithium mine in the U.S.
All of us in the propane industry need to be ready to speak to customers and neighbors about what propane brings to the table to help facilitate decarbonization while promoting energy security for everyone. There is a role for electric, a role for propane, and a role for many other forms of energy in the decarbonization process.