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Senate passes bill to avert helium shortage

Published September 19, 2013 3:56 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

WASHINGTON • The Senate has approved a bill to avert an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a wide range of products, from party balloons to MRI machines.

The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation's helium from a storage site in Texas, is to shut down Oct. 7 as a result of a 1996 law requiring the reserve to pay off a 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 bill the Senate passed Thursday differs slightly from a House-approved bill. President Barack Obama favors the Senate version.

 

 

 

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