Lighter Than Air Gas Continues to Flummox Congress

The U.S. is still trying to craft and implement a comprehensive strategy to maintain its stockpiles of Helium-3, an important isotope for researchers and detection devices.  The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources recently held a hearing on S. 2374, The Helium Stewardship Act of 2012.  In short, the bill is trying to adjust how the country manages its stockpile as it transitions to private sources (the draw-down referred to in the bill).

It seems relatively non-controversial, though I can see that some might resist the move to private sources, given the challenges we have now with other critical elements.  In many cases we are now dependent on production of other countries and/or have to deal with an atrophied domestic production capacity.  I would hope this doesn’t happen as a result of this legislation, but I don’t know the helium markets well enough to know if that is possible.

In either case, I am not persuaded that this bill will get signed into law.  Congress continues to lack the ability to pass timely budgets, much less other time-sensitive legislation that affects larger groups of people than those who need consistent access to helium.