Skip to comments.Congress votes to keep helium program
Posted on 04/27/2013 5:26:38 AM PDT by haffast
WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to keep the Federal Helium Program, set up after World War I to guarantee U.S. dirigibles would have the gas they needed.
The vote Friday was 394-1, The Washington Post reported.
The helium program has been a target of small government advocates for decades. President Ronald Reagan wanted to eliminate it and President Bill Clinton put it on his reinventing government target list -- along with aid to beekeepers and wool producers. He succeeded in killing the latter two programs but they were revived a few years later, the Post said.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said he agrees with those who say the helium program has had its day.
But he voted, like many others, to retain it for now because it supplies more than 40 percent of the country's helium.
Don't they print our money too?
Shortage of helium has business impact
This is exactly why all of Obama’s worthless “green energy” money pits will never be eliminated. Once a federal government program begins, it never ends.
So that's what's doing it.
FWIW, helium is used for more than party balloons. Anyone who has had soft tissue damage should know this.
Liquid helium is used in high-field MRI machines to keep the superconducting magnets working. It boils off and needs to be refilled from time to time. It is getting harder to come by and has doubled in price.
It would be great if this program was privatized. But at least this government service is not running at a loss like everything else the feral giverment does.
Helium stocks run low and party balloons are to blame
Robin McKie Science Editor
The Observer, Saturday 17 March 2012
Funding boondoggles like the strategic helium reserve is a higher priority than funding our pathetic TSA well enough to avoid flight delays. Funding today’s child-molesting TSA is a higher priority than funding actual airline security. Running ads in Mexico to educate their citizens on their “right” to food stamps in our country is a higher priority than any functional program to help unemployed Americans transition to long-term jobs. Government is not on our side or even neutral today - big government is the enemy of freedom.
I don’t think people know how rare, irreplaceable, and important helium really is. It can’t be manufactured or synthesized in any practical way as of now, and it is used in many important industrial and medical processes; it isn’t easy to store either. We are lucky to have what we have!
I think we have bigger fish to fry than a self-financing helium reserve.
Educate us on how important helium is. The article and Hank Johnson argue that a shortage will affect the balloon industry. OMG!!!!!
Tell me why my tax dollars should subsidize the businesses that use helium. If it no longer has military purposes then why should taxpayers continue to pay for this program?
Sure helium has lots of industrial scientific and medical uses, but if the industry were fully privatized and prices went up there would be a great incentive for private companies to look for new sources and increase supplies or develop less costly substitutes. This is fundamental market economics but the concept is incomprehensible for the Marxist in the White House and the economic dolts in Congress.
Oh please! Helium is a constituent of the air we breathe. In the commercial gas business air is “liquefied” by compressing and cooling. That's how we get liquid Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon, Helium and Hydrogen. These are commodities. The idea that the government has to be involved in any way is just ridiculous!
There is a really good reason for the US to keep a helium, and other reserves of strategic materials. And it goes back to World War I.
There were several things that the German war machine needed to conduct aggressive war. Because they could not get helium, they had to use hydrogen gas in their airships, with predictable results.
Another thing they desperately needed was bird waste, guano, which existed in concentrated form several feet deep mostly on islands that were to home to seabirds for thousands of years.
Even before the US Civil War, congress passed the Guano Islands Act, “... that enables citizens of the U.S. to take possession of islands containing guano deposits. The islands can be located anywhere, so long as they are not occupied and not within the jurisdiction of other governments. It also empowers the President of the United States to use the military to protect such interests and establishes the criminal jurisdiction of the United States.”
Guano was an important source of nitrates for gunpowder.
The need for these nitrates was so great, that the pre-WWI German chemical industry was set the priority to figure out how to synthesize nitrates, which they finally did.
Today, however, there is almost no non-renewable resource that is not worth stockpiling. Recent issues have been with rare earth elements, platinum group metals, and yes, helium.
When balloons are outlawed, only outlaws will have balloons!
“Oh please! Helium is a constituent of the air we breathe. In the commercial gas business air is liquefied by compressing and cooling. That’s how we get liquid Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon, Helium and Hydrogen. These are commodities. The idea that the government has to be involved in any way is just ridiculous!”
Didn’t take very many STEM courses, hmm?
Helium, being incredibly rare on Earth anyway (a byproduct of radioactive decay), tends to float up and out of the atmosphere. The amount you could obtain from ordinary air is vanishingly small, and would take vast processing and energy to fractionalize. Most of the helium comes from certain few oil and gas wells that happened to collect radioactive by-products from deep in the Earth (the center of the Earth contains metals, i.e., uranium, and this is where much of the natural heat of the Earth comes from).
“Helium, being incredibly rare on Earth anyway (a byproduct of radioactive decay), tends to float up and out of the atmosphere. The amount you could obtain from ordinary air is vanishingly small, and would take vast processing and energy to fractionalize. Most of the helium comes from certain few oil and gas wells that happened to collect radioactive by-products from deep in the Earth (the center of the Earth contains metals, i.e., uranium, and this is where much of the natural heat of the Earth comes from).”
I don’t remember if the number of wells involved is 8 or 14. Helium is rare and valuable.
FWIW, helium is used for more than party balloons.
An early concern about the Ares 5 design was ... if there were a lot of launches to sustain a Moon Colony and then a Mars Colony ... it could have exhausted the entire Helium supply of the US.