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    Roy Willis, president of the Propane Education & Research Council, made the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the mushroom check-off case.

     

    June 29, 2001

    "On Monday, June 25, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision striking provisions of the mushroom check-off program as a violation of First Amendment rights of certain mushroom producers who did not want to subsidize generic advertising with which they disagreed. The Propane Education & Research Council (Council) is likewise a check-off program, and inevitably, therefore, questions arise about the impact of the case on the Council's activities.

    The Council's Executive Committee is reviewing the Supreme Court's decision with our legal advisors. We are initially comforted that the Supreme Court emphasized that the mushroom check-off program raised money almost exclusively for generic advertising. In conspicuous contrast, the Council's mission embraces vital research, safety and training activities. We preliminarily conclude that our core missions are not jeopardized by the Supreme Court decision, and that the First Amendment poses no obstacle to the kind of informative commercial speech provided as an incident to the Council's various missions.

    We will continue our careful study of the decision, just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which supports commodity check-off programs, has launched its own review of the decision. Meanwhile, work continues on all of the Council's approved projects. Likewise, assessment collections will continue. The Court's decision does not affect the legal obligation of companies to pay the current assessment on odorized propane or the Council's authority to collect that assessment.

    This matter will be on the Council's agenda when it meets July 17-18 in Chicago."

    The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Propane Education & Research Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source. For more information about the Propane Council, please call 202-452-8975 or visit the website at www.usepropane.com