National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) welcomed unanimous passage today by the United States Senate of legislation to reauthorize, extend and improve operations of the Federal Helium Reserve in Texas. The Senate vote came soon after the House of Representatives’ approval on September 25 of an amended version of the bill by a vote of 397–0. NEMA called on President Obama to sign the legislation into law as soon as possible.
According to NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis, the Senate’s approval of the final version of HR 527, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, provides a more certain path forward for many NEMA member companies that rely on a stable supply of refined helium.
He praised Senate and House leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Committee Ranking Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), House Natural Resources Committee Chair Representative Richard “Doc” Hastings (R-WA), former Committee Ranking Member Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), and current Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
“I commend their dedication to reaching a bipartisan solution that addresses the priorities of industrial end-users of helium, including manufacturers of magnetic resonance imaging equipment and solid-state lighting,” he said.
“President Obama should sign this bill, which received only three negative votes during its travels on Capitol Hill, into law at his earliest opportunity.”
Under current law passed in 1996, the Federal Helium Reserve would cease operations on October 7. The new law, if approved by the president as expected, would extend the life of the reserve until 2021, by which time many more private sources of crude helium are expected to be available. U.S. users of helium acquire much of their current supply via industrial gas refining companies associated with the reserve, which currently holds approximately 30 percent of global supply of the gas.
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia. Nearly 400 members strong, its companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Total U.S. shipments for electroindustry products exceed $100 billion annually.
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