President Obama Signs Helium Bill Into Law After Congress Passes Bill to Avert Supply Crisis

By Tawanda W. Johnson

MRI Machine

Photo by

Helium is used in the operation of MRI machines.

The American Physical Society is pleased that President Obama signed the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 into law, following passage of the legislation by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The new law ensures that scientists have access to a steady supply of the crucial gas for research projects. In addition to being used for scientific research, helium is necessary for the fabrication of semi-conductors, optical fibers, and in the operation of MRI machines. 

For more than a year, APS played an integral role in advocating for the legislation and partnered with other scientific societies and high-tech companies to push the bill through Congress. Supporters of the legislation worked to avert the mandated Oct. 1 shutdown of the helium reserve in Amarillo, Texas, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. 

"I am both elated and relieved that Congress has gotten this done," said Michael Turner, president of the APS. "Helium illustrates one of the many connections between research, the economy and advanced healthcare in this country. I am proud that the APS played a leading role in getting this done and thank our Public Affairs Office and APS members for their tireless efforts."

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