The weather outside is frightful, but the propane needed to heat homes is becoming more expensive and harder to come by for millions of Americans in the Midwest and the Northeast.

The propane shortage affecting 24 states has prompted federal lawmakers to look into the issue after federal energy regulators issued orders to pipeline companies “to temporarily provide priority treatment to propane shipments from Mont Belvieu, Texas, to locations in the Midwest and Northeast in order to help alleviate a shortage of propane supplies in those regions.”

This is the first time that such an order has ever been issued by federal energy regulators.

“We’re mindful of the emergency situation that has developed in parts of the country where bitter cold weather has created problems for consumers who need supplies of propane,” said Acting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Cheryl LaFleur in a statement.

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