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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Senate Passes Bill To Avert Worldwide Helium Shortage

Posted by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:02 AM
  • 10 Replies

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/senate-passes-bill-avert-helium-shortage-20310245


Senate Passes Bill to Avert Helium Shortage

Break out the balloons.

Congress moved a step closer Thursday to averting an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a products ranging from party balloons to MRI machines.

The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation's helium from a storage site near Amarillo, Texas, is set to shut down Oct. 7 unless lawmakers intervene. The shutdown is a result of a 1996 law requiring the reserve to pay off a $1.3 billion debt by selling its helium.

The debt is paid, but billions of cubic feet of helium remain. Closing the reserve would cause a worldwide helium shortage — an outcome lawmakers from both parties hope to avoid.

The Senate approved a bill Thursday, 97-2, to continue the helium program, following action in the House this spring.

Preserving access to the federal helium supply "prevents a shock to the health care sector and other critical industries that depend on helium," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said. "Protecting America's manufacturing base, its research capabilities, its health care system and its national security by temporarily extending the life of the (federal) helium program is just common sense."

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States depend on a reliable supply of helium.

If the federal government stops selling helium to private entities, "a significant delay might not just slow the production of computer chips, but the computers, life-saving medical devices and weapons systems that they power," Simpson said.

Micron Technology, a Boise-based semiconductor manufacturer, is among companies that depend on helium, Simpson said. The computer chip industry employs a quarter-million people nationwide, Simpson said.

The Senate bill approved Thursday differs slightly from a bill approved in the House in April. President Barack Obama favors the Senate version.

A statement by the White House called helium an essential resource for the aerospace industry and production of computer chips and optical fiber, as well as medical uses including MRI machines and medical lasers. Helium also is used in national defense applications such as rocket engine testing and purging, surveillance devices and scientific balloons.

"The impending abrupt shutdown of this program would cause a spike in helium prices that would harm many U.S. industries and disrupt national security programs,'" the White House said.



by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:02 AM
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Replies (1-10):
romalove
by Roma on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:03 AM
1 mom liked this

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

coolmommy2x
by Gold Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:05 AM
1 mom liked this
I can honestly say I have learned something new today from CM!

Quoting romalove:

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

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romalove
by Roma on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:22 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting coolmommy2x:

I can honestly say I have learned something new today from CM!

Quoting romalove:

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

Quick, run over to the "does CM make you smarter" thread and post!  LOL

lga1965
by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:22 AM

 

Quoting romalove:

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

 I didn't either.

It seems weird that there is a "shortage". I  fact I thought it was from The Onion.

romalove
by Roma on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:25 AM


Quoting lga1965:

 

Quoting romalove:

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

 I didn't either.

It seems weird that there is a "shortage". I  fact I thought it was from The Onion.

I was listening to my local news when they reported on the story, which is why I sought it out to post here.  I couldn't understand why there was a shortage or why anyone would care lol.

KelliansMom
by Bronze Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:42 AM
They have been worried about a shortage for years. When I worked at a party store that's all the bosses would talk about along with the guy that delivered it. We had to cut back on how many tanks we were getting each week. And not give out free kid balloons any more
romalove
by Roma on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:43 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting KelliansMom:

They have been worried about a shortage for years. When I worked at a party store that's all the bosses would talk about along with the guy that delivered it. We had to cut back on how many tanks we were getting each week. And not give out free kid balloons any more

I have a party business but we don't use balloons.  I had no idea!  Apparently they are going to avert the shortage (they have tons of it stockpiled) but there's so much that goes into the world that we just don't give a thought to.

Balloons are only important to balloon sellers; national security is important to everyone.

rfurlongg
by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 7:51 AM
1 mom liked this
A bipartisan decision, good for them ;-).

I had no idea helium was so important to national security.
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coolmommy2x
by Gold Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM
1 mom liked this
Hahahaha! =)

Quoting romalove:


Quoting coolmommy2x:

I can honestly say I have learned something new today from CM!



Quoting romalove:

Did any of you know that helium is important to national security programs??? 

I sure didn't.

Quick, run over to the "does CM make you smarter" thread and post!  LOL

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
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