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Senate passes bill to preserve helium supply

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | September 19, 2013
On Thursday, the Senate approved bipartisan legislation that would prevent the closure of the Federal Helium Reserve, which supplies roughly 30 percent of the world's helium.

The High Technology Jobs Preservation Act (H.R. 527), which was passed in a Senate vote of 97-2, is a substitute amendment to the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. That bill was introduced by the House in February and approved nearly unanimously in April.

"We urge the House to vote immediately to avert the helium cliff and ensure the well-being of countless patients who hang in the balance," said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA).
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Helium is critical for manufacturing and running MRI scanners. It's currently the only element on earth that can keep an MRI magnet at its necessary operating temperature, which is an extremely cold 440 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. But it's also an essential gas for other types of advanced manufacturing, as well as scientific research.

Natural Resources Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sponsored the bipartisan legislation.

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