Third NEMA/Capitol Hill Word of the Week: helium. (The first two Words of the Week must be either 1) Shaheen and 2) Portman or 1) energy and 2) efficiency.)
Yesterday, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation to modernize and reform federal policy to better secure supplies of helium for U.S. industry and government uses. Under current law, the Federal Helium Reserve will cease operations this fall, removing a significant source of supply from the market, and contributing to uncertainty for commercial, federal, medical and scientific users of helium. U.S. users of helium acquire much of their supply via industrial gas refining companies associated with the Federal Helium Reserve located just ourtside Amarillo, Texas.
Why do NEMA members care about helium? Put simply: manufacturers of magnetic resonance imaging equipment, light-emitting diodes, semiconductors and arc-welding equipment need a stable supply of refined helium to get their jobs done. Introduction of the Helium Stewardship Act (S. 783) will help make that happen, especially when you look at what the House of Representatives is scheduled to take up tomorrow and Friday: its own helium bill.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Ranking Member Edward “Ed” Markey (D-MA) introduced the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act (H.R. 527) in February and passed it out of the Committee last month. NEMA and a broad coalition representing end-users of helium are urging passage. To contact your Representative to urge their support for H.R 527, click here.
NEMA looks forward to continuing to work with its member companies, allied groups, the House, and the Senate to build support for helium legislation and secure its approval by this summer.