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Support Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Worldwide Helium Shortage


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2013 -

Support Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Worldwide Helium Shortage
April 24, 2013

Dear Colleague,

This week the House will vote on H.R. 527, The Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. This bipartisan legislation is a common sense plan to prevent a global helium shortage, protect jobs and the economy, and ensure a fairer return for taxpayers.

From high-tech manufacturing to hospitals and scientific labs – our economy in the 21st century is dependent on helium. Helium is essential to the manufacturing of computer chips and fiber optic cables, is used by hospitals for life-saving medical tests like an MRI, and is critical to national defense efforts.

In 1996 Congress enacted legislation to require the sale and privatization of the Federal Helium Reserve. As a result, in October of this year, the Reserve, by law, will no longer be able to sell the remaining 11 billion cubic feet of helium. This will create an immediate worldwide helium shortage and cut the domestic supply by nearly half.

H.R. 527 will prevent this shortage and promote market-based reforms by implementing a three-phase system for operating the Federal Helium Reserve until the Reserve is emptied of helium. In addition, it will ensure that taxpayers get a fair return for this resource.

According to reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of the Interior Inspector General (DOI-IG) the low helium sales price set by the federal government has resulted in taxpayers not receiving a proper return on this valuable resource. The National Academies of Science has concluded that selling this resource not at market price may slow efforts and investment to bring alternative helium supplies online.

H.R. 527 passed through the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent, and over 20 end-user groups representing hi-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, aerospace technologies, medical devices, chemicals, fiber optics, and scientific researchers have called for passage of the legislation.

We strongly encourage you to support H.R. 527. Please contact Tim Charters with the Natural Resources Committee Majority Staff or Morgan Gray with the Natural Resources Committee Minority Staff if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Doc Hastings (WA-04)                                                    Rep. Ed Markey (MA-05)
Chairman                                                                        Ranking Member
House Committee on Natural Resources                        House Committee on Natural Resources   

Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17)                                                  Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12)
House Committee on Natural Resources                        House Committee on Natural Resources




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