its final action of the week, the House passed a bill creating a
framework for winding down operation of the Federal Helium Reserve.
Under current law, the Reserve is mandated to cease commercial helium
sales once it pays off its debt, which is expected to occur by October
2013. According to the House Natural Resources committee, the scheduled
closure would cut domestic helium supplies in half. H.R. 527 would keep
the reserve open with new operating instructions until its capacity is 3
billion cubic feet (down from 10 billion cubic feet at present), at
which time commercial sales will no longer be authorized and remaining
supplies will only be available for national security and scientific
needs. Neither the administration nor Senate leaders have staked out
positions on the measure.
Joy Lemmons KB0YUP
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