Act Now to Secure Nation's Helium Supply

Dear APS Member,

The APS rarely calls upon you to act, but I do so now as President because of a looming disaster that I believe can be prevented with our rapid action. Partisan gridlock threatens to diminish the US Helium supply by 50% on October 1st unless the Congressional Leadership can enact bi-partisan legislation in the next two weeks of a very busy Congressional schedule.

I ask you to call the office(s) of at least one member of the leadership today or  tomorrow (see contact information below) to urge them to find a solution that will ensure the continued supply of Helium for the research community as well for use in MRIs and in the semiconductor industry. I know your schedule is very busy, but each call should take less than 5 minutes. When calling, you should identify yourself and your affiliation and request to speak to the staff contact from the list below. If you happen to be from the state or district of the office you are calling, you should identify yourself as a constituent. If the person answering the phone tells you the contact is not available, ask to be transferred to his or her voicemail and leave that person a message referencing the subject of your call.

Sincerely yours,

Michael S. Turner, APS President

Offices to Call

Senator Harry Reid
Staff Contact: Alex McDonough, 202-224-3542 

Senator Mitch McConnell
Staff Contact: Neil Chatterjee, 202-224-3135

Senator Ron Wyden (Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman)
Staff Contact: Joshua Scheinkman, 202-224-4971

Senator Lisa Murkowski (Ranking Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee)
Staff Contact: Karen Billups, 202-224-4971

Speaker of the House John Boehner
Staff Contact: Maryam Brown, 202-225-0600

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Staff Contact: Ken DeGraff, 202-225-0100

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Staff Contact: Steve Stombres, 202-225-4000

Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee Doc Hastings
Staff Contact: Tim Charters, 202-225-2761

Ranking Member, House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio
Staff Contact: Penny Dodge, 202-225-6065

Talking Points for Use in Speaking with Congressional Offices

I urge leadership to move forward Helium legislation from the House and Senate to ensure timely enactment of a bill that will allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to continue operations beyond September 30th. Helium is an irreplaceable and critical element in low temperature research, as well as in the production of semiconductors and operation of MRI machines. Should Congress fail to permanently reauthorize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to continue its sales of Helium, semiconductor production and MRI operation at hospitals across the country will suffer dramatic reductions, as will all low-temperature research in a host of scientific disciplines. This would be a self-inflicted wound that our country can ill afford in a very competitive world.

More Background

Congress is currently working on Helium legislation that would stabilize price fluctuations and provide a secure supply of helium to the market.

The House of Representatives passed its Helium bill, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act (H.R. 527) in May and the Senate intends to pass a substitute amendment to H.R. 527 in the next several days. Once the Senate passes its version of the bill, both chambers must resolve those differences in conference and pass a final version. If they miss the September 30 deadline, the Bureau of Land Management must begin shut down operations of its helium facility, drastically reducing supply (by as much as 50%) and causing price increases. 

This bi-partisan legislation which the APS has been guiding through Congress with the help of industry has become hostage to Congressional gridlock and the limited Congressional schedule.

For more information on the diminishing US Helium supply, read this op-ed by Moses Chan and Michael Turner: "America's Looming Helium Disaster".