American Chemical Society Applauds Senate, Urges Swift Passage of Helium Bill

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The American Chemical Society (ACS) applauds the Senate action today in passing helium supply legislation by a vote of 97 to 2.

ACS Chemistry for Life Logo“ACS urges the House and Senate to swiftly conference this legislation so it can be presented to President Barack Obama for his immediate signature,” said ACS President Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D.

“MRIs that image cancer tumors use helium,” said Wu. “Heart patients rely on helium for proper catheterization during surgery. It’s vital for national defense. Even scuba divers who conduct rescue operations rely on helium. If the liquid helium supply was to suddenly vanish, our society would be turned upside down.”

The Senate’s urgent vote was held to stave off closure of the Amarillo, Texas, helium production facilities, which have been operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Federal Helium Program — set to expire on Oct. 7, 2013. Availability of helium reached a critical point when BLM announced it would begin shutting the Amarillo facility down as early as mid-September, as the world’s second-largest supply in Wyoming shut down earlier in September for maintenance.

Legislation is needed to permit the BLM to continue operating the Amarillo helium facility until 2015, when the commodity can be privatized. ACS has supported both the House and Senate bills, respectively: H.R. 527 and S. 783 — taking the position that making sure that helium supplies are available and uninterrupted is the primary concern.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


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