Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (09/04/1996)

Propane Education and Research Act of 1996 - Authorizes the qualified industry organizations (the National Propane Gas Association, the Gas Processors Association, or successor organizations, or a group of retail marketers or producers who collectively represent at least 25 percent of the volume of propane sold or produced in the United States) to conduct, at their own expense, a referendum among producers and retail marketers for the creation of a Propane Education and Research Council.

Directs the Council, if established, to develop programs (including programs to enhance consumer and employee safety and training) and enter into contracts for: (1) propane research and development; (2) consumer education; and (3) payment for program costs with funds collected under this Act.

Requires the Council to reimburse the Secretary of Energy annually for any costs incurred by the United States, but not more than the average annual salary of two Department of Energy employees.

Prescribes guidelines under which the Council shall set annual assessments on odorized propane to cover program costs.

Directs the Council to establish a program to coordinate its operations with any State propane education and research council.

Prohibits Council funds from being used for lobbying activities.

Directs the Secretary of Commerce to annually prepare and make available to the Council, the Secretary of Energy (Secretary), and the public, an analysis of changes in propane prices relative to other energy resources. Requires the Council to restrict its activities to research and development, training, and safety whenever in any year the five-year average rolling price index of consumer grade propane exceeds by more than 10.1 percent the five-year rolling average price composite index of residential electricity, residential natural gas, and refiner price to end users of Number 2 fuel oil.

Requires the price of propane to be determined by market forces in all cases. Prohibits the Council from taking action to pass the cost of the annual assessments to consumers.

Requires the Secretary of Commerce to report biennially to the Congress and the Secretary on: (1) whether operation of the Council, in conjunction with the cumulative effects of market changes and Federal programs, has had an effect on propane consumers, including residential, agriculture, process, and nonfuel users; and (2) whether there have been long-term and short-term effects on propane prices as a result of Council activities and Federal programs.