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President signs helium bill into law

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | October 04, 2013
President Obama signed the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act into law on Wednesday, which will prevent the premature closing of the Federal Helium Reserve in Texas. The reserve supplies roughly 30 percent of the world's helium.

The House of Representatives passed the bipartisan legislation on Sept. 26, with very little time to spare before the Bureau of Land Management was supposed to shut down the reserve at the start of October.

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, and is used in scientific research.

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"The passage of this law will safeguard patient access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which are essential to the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and ensure a reliable supply of helium for a broad range of industries and research entities that contribute to our country's economic and scientific leadership," said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of the industry lobby MITA, in a statement.

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