Wet fall weather and recent cold spells have combined to put a pinch on Illinois' propane supplies, causing distribution problems across the state.
The declaration means regulations will be eased on propane truck drivers so they can drive to other states and fill their tanks. Illinois also has lifted limits on how long truck drivers can work within 24 hours. This will let them travel farther to pick up propane, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises' newspapers reported.
Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette said the shortage means additional drivers are needed to travel to Texas to haul propane back to Illinois.
If cold temperatures continue, people who use propane to heat their homes could experience some negative effects. Nationwide, the blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies. Propane users are hit hardest by the fuel shortages, some paying up to $100 to $200 more per fill-up.
The Energy Department says 5.5 million U.S. households heat with propane, mostly in the Midwest and South.
State. Sen. Sam McCann, a Carlinville Republican, had asked Quinn to make the declaration.
"Thousands of Illinoisans are struggling to heat their homes, and many business owners and livestock producers don't know whether they will be able to access or afford necessary supplies of propane," McCann said in a statement.
Propane supplies were already low for a few reasons. Farmers harvested corn late in the year, and much of it was wet, forcing them to buy propane to dry the grain before storage. Then the polar vortex that swept the country in early January pushed up heating demand and drained supplies further.