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July 15, 2015
Photo: Karen Sullivan
Professor Halperin during his testimony.
“For many scientists, including me, liquid helium is our professional lifeblood,” stated William Halperin, professor of physics at Northwestern University and chair-elect of APS’s Division of Condensed Matter Physics, during his testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Halperin was joined by four other witnesses – Anne-Marie Fennell (U.S. Government Accountability Office); David Joyner (Air Liquide); Walter Nelson (Air Products & Chemicals); and Tim Spisak (Bureau of Land Management) – who testified during the subcommittee’s July 8 oversight hearing on The Helium Stewardship Act and the Path Forward.
The Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 (Act) averted the pending shutdown of the Federal Helium Reserve and allowed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to continue to manage its operations until 2021, the new date established for the reserve’s permanent closure. The act also aimed to develop a competitive domestic helium market, but two years after it was signed into law, there are questions surrounding BLM’s implementation and interpretation of the act.While the hearing was mostly focused on how BLM can improve and expand competition in the domestic helium market, Halperin informed the committee on the importance of liquid helium to the scientific community, the community’s concerns regarding its availability, and steps APS is taking to help academic researchers. Briefly, his testimony highlighted:
Halperin’s testimony can be read in full here.
U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) showed particular interest in Halperin’s message, using all of her initial five-minute allotment for questions to follow-up on his testimony. Lummis’ questions enabled Halperin to further discuss the importance of stability in both price and supply of liquid helium for the scientific community.
The APS Office of Public Affairs continues to lead efforts to help alleviate the issues academic researchers face with liquid helium procurement. For more information on the liquid helium brokerage or other APS activities concerning liquid helium, please contact Mark Elsesser, APS senior policy analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org