SCHUMER ANNOUNCES SENATE PASSAGE OF BILL TO PREVENT FEDERAL HELIUM RESERVE FROM SHUTTING DOWN - WILL KEEP CRITICAL HELIUM SUPPLY FLOWING TO BOOMING SEMICONDUCTORY INDUSTRY, MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES & MORE
Helium Is a Rare & Crucial Ingredient in High-tech Manufacturing of Semiconductors in Upstate Nanotech Cluster - Senate Vote Huge Step to Preventing National Helium Reserve From Closing This Year; House Passed Similar Bill & Final Deal Within Reach
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Senate has passed an amended version of H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act to keep the Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas from pending closure expected as early as this month, by a vote of 97-2. Schumer has made keeping the federal helium reserve open a priority in 2013, due to its negative impact on the availability of helium for critical applications, such as high-tech manufacturing, medical procedures, chip manufacturing. Schumer said that the Senate-passed bill is an amended version of the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, and a final deal is within reach.
The Federal Helium Reserve currently provides approximately half of all domestic helium needs. Instability in the domestic helium supply and the pending closure of the federal helium reserve could have ramifications for suppliers like Praxair in Buffalo, and a number of their customers in Upstate NY, including: Corning Inc., Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dresser-Rand, and Buffalo based research engine CUBRC. It would also impact chip manufacturing at GlobalFoundries and IBM. IBM has also noted that a steady supply of helium is critical to the success of a new line of mainframe computers the company has developed, which is being partially assembled in New York.
"Thanks to the Senate passage of the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, New York hospitals, the chip industry and other high-tech companies will not go over the helium cliff. I have made it a top priority in 2013 to ensure that our national helium supply be maintained, especially because a healthy reserve allows American semiconductor manufacturers, like GlobalFoundries and IBM, and places like Praxair, to create good-paying, high-tech jobs in upstate New York. High-tech manufacturers throughout the country rely on a steady supply of helium gas in order to stay open for business and this compromise legislation, which is an amended version of House-passed bill, is the makings of a final deal that will ensure a steady supply of this vital resource," said Senator Schumer.
Schumer is an original cosponsor of S. 783 the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which aims to re-authorize the operation of the federal helium reserve, promote the responsible management of Federally-held crude helium assets, and to stimulate future development of private sources of helium. Schumer said that he pushed to make sure that the amended version of H.R. 527achieved the same goals as S. 783 and will help secure and preserve reliable helium supplies for important commercial users like the New York semiconductor industry, a major job-creator in upstate New York. Schumer said that the House of Representatives passed a more extreme, impractical bill that could disrupt supply for Upstate New York high-tech chip manufacturers like GlobalFoundries because of an aggressive approach that would almost immediately open up 100% of the reserve to semi-annual private auctions, as opposed to honoring existing supplier contracts.