Amendment Text: H.Amdt.54 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

There is one version of the amendment.

Shown Here:
Amendment as Offered (04/26/2013)

This Amendment appears on page H2360 in the following article from the Congressional Record.


[Pages H2357-H2364]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




         RESPONSIBLE HELIUM ADMINISTRATION AND STEWARDSHIP ACT


                             General Leave

  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill, H.R. 527.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Collins of Georgia). Is there objection 
to the request of the gentleman from Washington?
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 178 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the state of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, 
H.R. 527.
  Will the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hultgren) kindly take the 
chair.

                              {time}  1018


                     In the Committee of the Whole

  Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the 
Whole House on the state of the Union for the further consideration of 
the bill (H.R. 527) to amend the Helium Act to complete the 
privatization of the Federal helium reserve in a competitive market 
fashion that ensures stability in the helium markets while protecting 
the interests of American taxpayers, and for other purposes, with Mr. 
Hultgren (Acting Chair) in the chair.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The Acting CHAIR. When the Committee of the Whole rose on Thursday, 
April 25, 2013, all time for general debate had expired.
  Pursuant to the rule, the bill shall be considered for amendment 
under the 5-minute rule.
  In lieu of the amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by 
the Committee on Natural Resources, printed in the bill, it shall be in 
order to consider as an original bill for the purpose of amendment 
under the 5-minute rule an amendment in the nature of a substitute 
consisting of the text of Rules Committee Print 113-9. That amendment 
in the nature of a substitute shall be considered as read.
  The text of the amendment in the nature of a substitute is as 
follows:

                                H.R. 527

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Responsible Helium 
     Administration and Stewardship Act''.

     SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

       Section 2 of the Helium Act (50 U.S.C. 167) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1), by striking the semicolon at the end 
     and inserting a period;
       (2) in paragraph (2), by striking ``; and'' and inserting a 
     period; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(4) Federal helium reserve.--
       ``(A) In general.--The term `Federal Helium Reserve' means 
     the Bureau of Land Management Cliffside Gas Field and 
     supporting infrastructure.
       ``(B) Inclusions.--The term `Federal Helium Reserve' 
     includes--
       ``(i) the Cliffside Gas Field helium storage reservoir; and
       ``(ii) all associated infrastructure owned, leased, or 
     managed under contract by the Secretary for storage, 
     transportation, withdrawal, purification, or management of 
     helium.
       ``(5) Qualifying domestic helium transaction.--The term 
     `qualifying domestic helium transaction'--
       ``(A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), means any new 
     or newly renegotiated agreement for the purchase or sale of 
     at least 15,000,000 standard cubic feet of crude helium or 
     bulk liquid helium delivered in the United States in the most 
     recent full fiscal year; and
       ``(B) does not include any purchase of crude helium from 
     the Secretary.
       ``(6) Tolling agreement.--The term `tolling agreement' 
     means an agreement between a helium refiner and another party 
     under which the helium refiner agrees to process the other 
     person's helium at an agreed upon price.''.

     SEC. 3. SALE AND AUCTION OF CRUDE HELIUM.

       (a) In General.--Section 6 of the Helium Act (50 U.S.C. 
     167d) is amended to read as follows:

     ``SEC. 6. SALE OF HELIUM.

       ``(a) Phase A: Finalizing Debt Payoff.--

[[Page H2358]]

       ``(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary 
     shall offer for sale crude helium for Federal, medical, 
     research, scientific, and commercial uses in such quantities, 
     at such times, and under such conditions as the Secretary 
     determines necessary to carry out this subsection with 
     minimum market disruption.
       ``(2) Minimum quantity.--The Secretary shall offer for sale 
     during each fiscal year under paragraph (1) a quantity of 
     crude helium equivalent to the quantity of crude helium 
     produced from the Federal Helium Reserve during fiscal year 
     2012.
       ``(3) In-kind purchase by federal agencies and grantees.--
     Federal agencies, and holders of 1 or more Federal research 
     grants, may purchase refined helium under this subsection for 
     Federal, medical, research and scientific uses from persons 
     who have entered into enforceable contracts to purchase an 
     equivalent quantity of crude helium from the Secretary.
       ``(4) Prices and determinations.--Sales of crude helium by 
     the Secretary under this subsection shall be at prices 
     established by the Secretary that shall not be less than the 
     price in the last sale of crude helium from the Federal 
     Helium Reserve before the date of enactment of the 
     Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, except 
     that any sale to a person referred to in paragraph (3) for a 
     purchase authorized by that paragraph shall be at a price 
     specified by the Secretary.
       ``(5) Duration.--This subsection applies during the 
     period--
       ``(A) beginning on the date of enactment of the Responsible 
     Helium Administration and Stewardship Act; and
       ``(B) ending on the expiration of the one-year period 
     following such date of enactment.
       ``(b) Phase B: Maximizing Total Recovery of Helium and 
     Increasing Returns to the American Taxpayer.--
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary shall offer for sale at 
     auction, as described in subsection (d), crude helium for 
     medical, research, scientific, and commercial uses in such 
     quantities, at such times, and under such conditions as the 
     Secretary determines necessary--
       ``(A) to maximize total recovery and conservation of helium 
     from the Federal Helium Reserve;
       ``(B) to manage crude helium sales according to the ability 
     of the Secretary to extract and produce helium from the 
     Federal Helium Reserve;
       ``(C) to respond to helium market supply and demand and 
     minimize market disruption; and
       ``(D) to give priority to meeting the helium demand of 
     Federal users through purchases under paragraph (2).
       ``(2) In-kind purchase by federal agencies and grantees.--
     Any Federal agency, and any holder of 1 or more Federal 
     research grants, may purchase refined helium for Federal, 
     medical, research, and scientific uses from an eligible 
     person. The Secretary shall then provide an equivalent volume 
     of crude helium to the eligible person as if the eligible 
     person was the successful bidder for the helium at auction. 
     Provision of helium by the Secretary under this paragraph 
     shall not be considered a sale of helium by the Secretary at 
     auction. The Secretary shall provide such helium at the 
     minimum price established by the Secretary for the most 
     recent auction held under this subsection or such other price 
     as may be specified by the Secretary.
       ``(3) Eligible person.--For purposes of this subsection, 
     the term `eligible person' means a helium distributer who is 
     registered as such with the Secretary.
       ``(4) Duration.--This subsection applies during the 
     period--
       ``(A) beginning on the expiration of the period described 
     in subsection (a)(5)(B); and
       ``(B) ending on the date on which the volume of recoverable 
     crude helium at the Federal Helium Reserve (other than 
     privately owned quantities of crude helium stored temporarily 
     at the Federal Helium Reserve under section 5 and this 
     section) is 3,000,000,000 standard cubic feet.
       ``(5) Maximum annual sales.--Notwithstanding any provision 
     of subsection (d), for each fiscal year, the Secretary may 
     not offer or provide for sale under this subsection a total 
     volume of crude helium that exceeds the lesser of--
       ``(A) the projected maximum total production capacity of 
     the Federal Helium Reserve during that fiscal year; and
       ``(B) the maximum refining capacity of persons connected by 
     pipeline to the Federal Helium Reserve during that fiscal 
     year.
       ``(c) Phase C: Access for Federal Users.--
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary may offer for sale crude 
     helium for Federal uses (including medical, research, and 
     scientific uses) in such quantities, at such times, and under 
     such conditions as the Secretary determines necessary to 
     carry out this subsection.
       ``(2) Purchase by federal agencies and grantees.--Federal 
     agencies, and holders of 1 or more Federal research grants 
     related to helium or the use of helium, may purchase refined 
     helium under this subsection for Federal uses (including 
     medical, research, and scientific uses) from persons who have 
     entered into enforceable contracts to purchase an equivalent 
     quantity of crude helium from the Secretary.
       ``(3) Effective date.--This subsection applies beginning on 
     the day after the date described in subsection (b)(4)(B).
       ``(d) Auction and Minimum Prices Determination.--
       ``(1) In general.--Sales of crude helium by the Secretary 
     in auctions under subsection (b) shall be conducted under the 
     conditions described in this section and at no less than the 
     minimum price established by the Secretary.
       ``(2) Auction.--The Secretary shall conduct such auctions 
     of crude helium as soon as practical but no later than 
     beginning 180 days after the first day of the period 
     described in subsection (b)(4), under the following 
     conditions:
       ``(A) 60 percent of the volume of crude helium made 
     available in each auction shall be made available to entities 
     that can show the Secretary they have either adequate 
     refining capacity or tolling agreements for refining in 
     place, in accordance with the conditions set forth in 
     paragraph (3).
       ``(B) 20 percent of the volume of crude helium made 
     available in each auction shall be made available to any 
     bidder, in accordance with the conditions set forth in 
     paragraph (3).
       ``(C) In each auction after the first auction under this 
     subsection after the date of the enactment of the Responsible 
     Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, the Secretary 
     shall make available an additional volume of crude helium, in 
     an amount equivalent to the amount made available under 
     subparagraph (B) that the Secretary certifies can be refined, 
     through tolling agreements or otherwise. Of such additional 
     volume, a person may not acquire in the auction a volume in 
     excess of the volume they demonstrate to the Secretary they 
     have the ability to refine through either refining capacity 
     or tolling agreements.
       ``(D) The Secretary shall conduct such auctions at such 
     times as the Secretary determines necessary to ensure a 
     reliable supply of helium and a fair return to taxpayers, but 
     no less frequently than 2 times each fiscal year.
       ``(E) For purposes of the first auction under this 
     subsection after the date of the enactment of the Responsible 
     Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, the Secretary may 
     revise the percentage under subparagraph (A) so as to make 
     available for auction 100 percent of the volume of crude 
     helium intended to be offered.
       ``(F) The Secretary may adjust the percentages and amount 
     specified in subparagraphs (A) through (C), respectively, in 
     any auction if the Secretary determines the adjustment is 
     necessary to--
       ``(i) respond to market supply and demand and minimize 
     market disruption; or
       ``(ii) increase participation in helium auctions.
       ``(G) The Secretary may conduct an auction no more 
     frequently than once each fiscal year of an amount of helium 
     equal to up to 10 percent of the volume of crude helium to be 
     made available at auction during the following fiscal year. 
     Such amount of crude helium shall be made available to any 
     bidder, in accordance with the conditions set forth in 
     paragraph (3). Notwithstanding paragraph (3)(C), for crude 
     helium sold in such an auction the Secretary shall begin 
     charging a storage fee under clause (i) of that paragraph 
     beginning 1 year after the date of such auction, and shall 
     begin charging increasing storage fees under clause (ii) of 
     that paragraph beginning 270 days after beginning charging 
     storage fees under clause (i) of that paragraph.
       ``(3) Auction conditions.--
       ``(A) Bidding method.--The Secretary shall conduct each 
     auction by sealed bid for predetermined volume lots, unless 
     the Secretary determines that an alternative bidding method 
     may result in more revenue to the Federal Government or may 
     increase participation in the auction.
       ``(B) Bidder qualifications and limits.--In carrying out an 
     auction under subsection (b), the Secretary--
       ``(i) may accept bids only from persons the Secretary 
     determines are seeking to purchase helium for their own use, 
     for refining, or for delivery to users; and
       ``(ii) may not award to a person more than 30 percent of 
     the total volume of crude helium offered in that auction, 
     except that the Secretary may adjust such limitation based on 
     the number of bidders in the auction.
       ``(C) Storage fees.--In each auction the Secretary--
       ``(i) shall begin charging each winning bidder a storage 
     fee for crude helium purchased by the bidder that remains in 
     the Federal Helium Reserve, beginning on the date the 
     Secretary receives payment of the purchase price for the 
     helium; and
       ``(ii) beginning 270 days after the date of the auction, 
     shall charge increasing storage fees that will encourage the 
     withdrawal of the helium no later than 2 years after the date 
     of the auction.
       ``(4) Determination of minimum sale price.--The Secretary 
     shall make a determination of the minimum sale price for 
     sales described in paragraph (1) using--
       ``(A) a confidential survey of qualifying domestic helium 
     transactions to which any holder of a contract with the 
     Secretary for the acceptance, storage, and redelivery of 
     crude helium in the Cliffside Gas Field helium storage 
     reservoir is a party;
       ``(B) current market crude helium prices as represented by 
     the sale price at any auction held by the Secretary in the 
     preceding 2 years;

[[Page H2359]]

       ``(C) the volume-weighted average cost among helium 
     refiners, producers, and liquefiers, in dollars per thousand 
     cubic feet, of converting gaseous crude helium into bulk 
     liquid helium;
       ``(D) the additional layer of cost and profit associated 
     with the sale or resale of bulk liquid helium; and
       ``(E) the sale price for crude helium offered in the most 
     recent auction under paragraph (2)(G).
       ``(5) Authority of secretary.--The Secretary shall--
       ``(A) require all persons that are parties to a contract 
     with the Secretary for the acceptance, storage, and 
     redelivery of crude helium to disclose, on a strictly 
     confidential basis in dollars per thousand cubic feet, the 
     weighted average price of all crude helium and bulk liquid 
     helium purchased, sold, or processed by the persons in all 
     qualifying domestic helium transactions during the fiscal 
     year;
       ``(B) appoint a qualified independent third party to 
     perform data collection and analysis for the purposes of the 
     survey under paragraph (4)(A); and
       ``(C) adopt such administrative policies and procedures as 
     the Secretary considers necessary and reasonable to ensure 
     robust protection of the confidentiality of data submitted by 
     private persons.
       ``(6) Changes in minimum price.--If the Secretary believes 
     that the minimum price as determined by the survey under 
     paragraph (4)(A) may not be reflective of the current market 
     value of helium, or if a higher minimum price may result in 
     greater conservation of the Federal crude helium resource, 
     the Secretary may change the minimum price charged for crude 
     helium sold under this section by up to 10 percent of the 
     price determined under paragraph (4). If at any sale in which 
     the minimum price is increased under this paragraph all crude 
     helium offered is sold at the increased price, the Secretary 
     shall consider that increased price to be the minimum price 
     determined under paragraph (4) for all future sales of crude 
     helium under this section unless that price is further 
     changed in accordance with this paragraph.
       ``(7) Ensuring fair and nondiscriminatory acts and 
     practices.--The Secretary may issue such rules and 
     regulations with respect to ensure bidding, transfer, and 
     refining of helium produced from or held in the Federal 
     Helium Reserve as may be necessary to ensure fair and 
     nondiscriminatory acts and practices.
       ``(8) Auction records.--
       ``(A) Furnishing records.--Every person participating in 
     auctions of helium from the Federal Helium Reserve shall 
     furnish to the Secretary on request such records of 
     transactions in helium auctions as the Secretary may require 
     to reconstruct bidding or trading in the course of a 
     particular inquiry or investigation being conducted by the 
     Secretary for enforcement or surveillance purposes. In 
     requiring information pursuant to this paragraph, the 
     Secretary shall specify the information required, the period 
     for which it is required, and the time and date on which the 
     information must be furnished.
       ``(B) Reporting requirements.--The Secretary may issue 
     rules to require persons participating in helium auctions to 
     file such reports as the Secretary determines to be necessary 
     for purposes of this Act.
       ``(C) Recordkeeping requirements.--Rules under this 
     subsection may require specified persons to make and keep for 
     prescribed periods such records as the Secretary determines 
     are necessary or appropriate to ensure that such persons can 
     comply with reporting requirements under this subsection.
       ``(D) Limitation on disclosure of information.--
     Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary 
     shall not be compelled to disclose any proprietary 
     information required to be kept or reported under this 
     subsection. Nothing in this subsection authorizes the 
     Secretary to withhold information from Congress, prevents the 
     Secretary from complying with a request for information from 
     any other Federal department or agency requesting information 
     for purposes within the scope of its jurisdiction, or 
     prevents the Secretary from complying with an order of a 
     court of the United States in an action brought by the United 
     States or by the Secretary.
       ``(e) Helium Production Fund.--
       ``(1) In general.--All amounts received under this Act 
     shall be credited to the Helium Production Fund, which shall 
     be available without fiscal year limitation for purposes 
     considered necessary by the Secretary to carry out this 
     subsection.
       ``(2) Administrative expenses.--Amounts in the Helium 
     Production Fund may be used by the Secretary to conduct 
     helium auctions and otherwise administer this Act.
       ``(3) Repayment amounts.--During the period described in 
     subsection (a)(4), amounts in the Helium Production Fund in 
     excess of amounts the Secretary considers necessary to 
     conduct helium auctions and otherwise administer this Act 
     shall be paid to the general fund of the Treasury and 
     credited against all amounts required to be repaid to the 
     United States under this Act as of October 1, 1995.
       ``(4) Capital investments and maintenance.--Amounts in the 
     Helium Production Fund in excess of amounts the Secretary 
     considers necessary to carry out paragraphs (1) through (3) 
     may be used to fund the following capital investments in 
     upgrades and maintenance at the Federal Helium reserve:
       ``(A) Wellhead maintenance at the Cliffside Gas Field 
     helium storage reservoir.
       ``(B) Capital investments in maintenance and upgrades of 
     facilities that pressurize the Cliffside Gas Field helium 
     storage reservoir.
       ``(C) Capital investments in maintenance and upgrades of 
     equipment related to the storage, withdrawal, transportation, 
     purification, and sale of crude helium at the Cliffside Gas 
     Field helium storage reservoir.
       ``(D) Any other scheduled or unscheduled maintenance of the 
     Cliffside Gas Field helium storage reservoir and helium 
     pipeline.
       ``(5) Excess funds.--Amounts in the Helium Production Fund 
     in excess of amounts the Secretary considers necessary to 
     carry out paragraphs (1) through (4) shall be paid to the 
     general fund of the Treasury.
       ``(f) Extraction of Helium From Deposits on Federal Land.--
     All amounts received by the Secretary from the sale or 
     disposition of crude helium on Federal land shall be paid to 
     the general fund of the Treasury and credited against all 
     amounts required to be repaid to the United States under this 
     Act as of October 1, 1995.
       ``(g) Maintenance of Helium Supply.--The Secretary shall 
     ensure that there is no disruption in the supply of helium 
     from the Federal Helium Reserve during the transition between 
     phases of helium sales under subsections (a), (b), and 
     (c).''.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the Secretary 
     of the Interior shall submit to the Committee on Natural 
     Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee 
     on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report 
     describing all expenditures by the Bureau of Land Management 
     for operation and maintenance of the Federal Helium Reserve 
     (as that term is defined in the amendment made by section 
     2(3)), investments made by the Bureau for such reserve, and 
     scheduled or unscheduled maintenance of such reserve or its 
     infrastructure to be conducted by the Bureau.

     SEC. 4. BLM TRANSPARENCY REQUIREMENTS TO FACILITATE MARKET 
                   AND SUPPLY CHAIN INFORMATION.

       The Helium Act (50 U.S.C. 167 et seq.) is further amended 
     by redesignating sections 15 and 17 as sections 17 and 18, 
     and by inserting after section 14 the following:

     ``SEC. 15. PIPELINE ACCESS.

       ``(a) Annual Report.--The Secretary, acting through the 
     Bureau of Land Management, shall make available on the 
     Internet the current refining capacity on the Federal Helium 
     Reserve pipeline, including--
       ``(1) refinery capacity and future capacity estimates;
       ``(2) ownership of federally auctioned helium held in the 
     Federal Helium Reserve;
       ``(3) volume of helium delivered to individual buyers 
     through such pipeline;
       ``(4) for each helium refiner--
       ``(A) the number of tolling agreements entered into before 
     October 1, 2013; and
       ``(B) for each fiscal year thereafter--
       ``(i) the number of tolling agreements entered into;
       ``(ii) the number of tolling requests received; and
       ``(iii) the total volume of helium refined under each 
     tolling agreement entered into;
       ``(5) pipeline pressure constraints; and
       ``(6) other factors that will increase transparency for 
     persons interested in entering refining contracts with 
     existing refiners.
       ``(b) New Refining Capacity.--The Secretary shall take any 
     applications for new refining capacity on the Federal Helium 
     Reserve pipeline. To create more competition, any new 
     refining capacity added to the Federal Helium Reserve 
     pipeline system shall be granted access to crude helium that 
     is equal to the access provided to existing refining 
     facilities.
       ``(c) Access by Purchasers of Helium.--The Secretary shall 
     manage Federal Helium Reserve pipeline access in a 
     competitive manner to ensure that all persons purchasing 
     helium have equal access to timing and delivery of the 
     helium, subject to the capacity of the system.
       ``(d) Scheduling Deliveries.--The Secretary shall, to the 
     greatest extent practicable, make the scheduling of crude 
     helium deliveries through the Federal Helium Reserve pipeline 
     open and transparent to all purchasers of helium through the 
     auction process, and to the public if the Secretary believes 
     that it is in the national interest.
       ``(e) Scheduling Priority.--
       ``(1) In general.--In scheduling crude helium deliveries 
     through the Federal Helium Reserve pipeline the Secretary 
     shall grant pipeline access in the following order of 
     priority:
       ``(A) Helium held in the Reserve as a result of a purchase 
     under subsection (b)(2).
       ``(B) Helium sold at auction being delivered to fulfill a 
     tolling agreement.
       ``(C) Other helium sold at auction.
       ``(D) Helium held in the Reserve as a result of a crude 
     helium exchange resulting from any temporary shutdown of the 
     Reserve or of a refinery on the Reserve pipeline.
       ``(E) Helium held in inventory in the Reserve before the 
     date of enactment of the Responsible Helium Administration 
     and Stewardship Act.
       ``(2) In scheduling such deliveries of helium described in 
     each of subparagraphs (A) through (E) of paragraph (1), the 
     Secretary shall grant pipeline access based on the following 
     order of priority:
       ``(A) The price paid to the United States for the helium, 
     giving higher priority to helium for which a greater price 
     was paid.
       ``(B) The date the helium was purchased from the Secretary, 
     giving higher priority to helium purchased on an earlier 
     date.
       ``(C) Any other factor the Secretary considers appropriate 
     to prioritize delivery.

[[Page H2360]]

     ``SEC. 16. BLM REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO FACILITATE SUPPLY 
                   CHAIN INFORMATION.

       ``(a) In General.--In order to provide the market with 
     appropriate and timely information affecting the helium 
     resource, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management shall 
     establish, no later than 90 days after the date of enactment 
     of the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, 
     a real-time reporting process, including reporting over the 
     Internet, to provide data that will affect the helium 
     industry, including such effects for all persons in such 
     industry from crude helium suppliers to end users.
       ``(b) Included Information.--Information provided under 
     this section shall include the following:
       ``(1) Annual maintenance schedules and quarterly updates 
     thereof, which shall be available on the Internet, to the 
     extent practicable, and shall include the following:
       ``(A) The date and duration of planned shutdowns of the 
     Federal Helium Reserve pipeline.
       ``(B) The nature of work to be undertaken, whether routine, 
     extended, or extraordinary.
       ``(C) The anticipated impact on the helium supply.
       ``(D) The efforts to minimize any impact on the supply 
     chain.
       ``(E) Any concerns regarding maintenance of the Federal 
     Helium Reserve pipeline, pressure of such pipeline, or 
     deviation from normal operation of such pipeline.
       ``(2) For each unplanned outage, the following:
       ``(A) The beginning of the outage.
       ``(B) The expected duration of outage.
       ``(C) A description of the problem.
       ``(D) The estimated impact on helium supply.
       ``(E) A plan to correct problems, an estimate of the 
     potential timeframe for correction, and the likelihood of 
     plan success within the timeframe.
       ``(F) Efforts to minimize negative impacts on the helium 
     supply chain.
       ``(G) Updates on repair status and the anticipated online 
     date.
       ``(3) Minutes of meetings between the Bureau of Land 
     Management and the Cliffside Refiners Limited Partnership, 
     including--
       ``(A) publication of the minutes of each meeting between 
     the Bureau of Land Management and the Cliffside Refiners 
     Limited Partnership, including attendees and their 
     affiliations, on the Internet site of the Bureau within 1 
     week after the meeting; and
       ``(B) indication in the minutes of any action taken that 
     could affect the supply or operating status related to the 
     Federal helium program.
       ``(4) Current predictions of the lifespan of the Federal 
     Helium Reserve, including how much longer such crude helium 
     supply will be available based on current and forecasted 
     demand and the projected maximum production capacity of the 
     Federal Helium Reserve for the following fiscal year.''.

     SEC. 5. HELIUM RESOURCE ASSESSMENT AND HELIUM-3 SEPARATION.

       (a) Helium Gas Resource Assessment.--Not later than 2 years 
     after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the 
     Interior shall--
       (1) in coordination with appropriate heads of State 
     geological surveys--
       (A) complete a national helium gas assessment that 
     identifies and quantifies the quantity of helium, including 
     the isotope helium-3, in each reservoir, including 
     assessments of the constituent gases found in each helium 
     resource, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and natural gas; 
     and
       (B) make available the modern seismic and geophysical log 
     data for characterization of the Bush Dome Reservoir;
       (2) in coordination with appropriate international agencies 
     and the global geology community, complete a global helium 
     gas assessment that identifies and quantifies the quantity of 
     the helium, including the isotope helium-3, in each 
     reservoir;
       (3) in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, acting 
     through the Administrator of the Energy Information 
     Administration, complete--
       (A) an assessment of trends in global demand for helium, 
     including the isotope helium-3;
       (B) a 10-year forecast of domestic demand for helium across 
     all sectors, including scientific and medical research, 
     commercial, manufacturing, space technologies, cryogenics, 
     and national defense; and
       (C) an inventory of medical, research, scientific, 
     industrial, commercial, and other uses of helium in the 
     United States, including Federal and commercial helium uses, 
     that identifies the nature of the helium use, the amounts 
     required, the technical and commercial viability of helium 
     recapture and recycling in that use, and the availability of 
     material substitutes wherever possible; and
       (4) submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the 
     House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and 
     Natural Resources of the Senate a report describing the 
     results of the assessments required under this subsection.
       (b) Helium-3 Separation.--
       (1) Interagency cooperation.--The Secretary of the Interior 
     shall cooperate with the Secretary of Energy, or a designee 
     of the Secretary of Energy, on any assessment or research 
     relating to the extraction and refining of the isotope 
     helium-3 from crude helium at the Federal Helium Reserve (as 
     that term is defined in the amendments made by section 2) or 
     along the Federal Helium Reserve pipeline system, including--
       (A) gas analysis;
       (B) infrastructure studies; and
       (C) cooperation with private helium refiners.
       (2) Feasibility study.--The Secretary of the Interior shall 
     assess the feasibility of establishing a facility to separate 
     the isotope helium-3 from crude helium at--
       (A) the Federal Helium Reserve; or
       (B) an existing helium separation or purification facility 
     connected to the Federal Helium Reserve pipeline system.
       (3) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall 
     submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of 
     Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural 
     Resources of the Senate a report that contains a description 
     of the results of the assessments conducted under this 
     subsection.

  The Acting CHAIR. No amendment to that amendment in the nature of a 
substitute shall be in order except those printed in House Report 113-
47. Each such amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the 
report, by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered read, 
shall be debatable for the time specified in the report, equally 
divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be 
subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division 
of the question.


           Amendment No. 1 Offered by Mr. Collins of Georgia

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 1 
printed in House Report 113-47.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 18, line 14, after ``funds'' insert ``and deficit 
     reduction''.
       Page 18, line 18, before the period insert ``and used to 
     reduce the annual Federal budget deficit''.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 178, the gentleman 
from Georgia (Mr. Collins) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia.

                              {time}  1020

  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Chair, I offer this amendment to ensure 
that any excess funds as a result of this bipartisan bill are used to 
reduce the annual Federal budget deficit.
  I am pleased that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have 
proposed a commonsense bill that speaks to the heart of the free-market 
system.
  The Congressional Budget Office estimates, as a result of this bill, 
$340 million will be returned to the Federal Government. This amendment 
ensures that every penny of savings will go toward deficit reduction, 
furthering the goal of this House to create jobs and encourage economic 
growth.
  This body has made significant strides in putting our country back on 
a path to fiscal prosperity. Passing a budget that will seek to balance 
in 10 years is no small achievement, but there is still more that we 
can do. This bill is just one example of savings that we can achieve by 
allowing innovation and private industry to do what it does best.
  The underlying bill completes the privatization of the Federal Helium 
Reserve in a competitive market fashion, respecting hard-earned 
taxpayer dollars while ensuring the stability of the helium market. As 
we have seen in the current helium market, innovation thrives when 
government gets out of the way of private industry.
  By applying free-market principles, this bill will spur cutting-edge 
research, development, and production of helium while bringing 
transparency and responsibility to how taxpayers' dollars are spent.
  In my home State of Georgia, this legislation draws broad support 
from job creators such GE Energy, IBM, Kodak, Philips, Siemens, and 
Texas Instruments.
  I thank the gentleman from Washington and the gentleman from 
Massachusetts for their leadership on this issue. This legislation is a 
perfect example of how good policy knows no party line.
  With that, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman.

[[Page H2361]]

  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for bringing this 
amendment to the floor, and I intend to support it. With our fiscal 
situation in this country, this is a good addition to the amendment; 
and I thank the gentleman for bringing it forward.
  Mr. HOLT. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
  Mr. HOLT. I appreciate the gentleman's amendment, which reiterates 
language that is in the underlying bill, and we have no objection to it 
on the minority side. I applaud the gentleman for bringing it forward.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. I thank the gentleman.
  Mr. Chair, at this point, I'm pleased to yield 2 minutes to my friend 
from Georgia (Mr. Scott), the cosponsor of this amendment.
  Mr. AUSTIN SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman 
from Georgia for allowing me a few minutes to speak on this issue.
  I rise today in support of the Collins-Scott amendment, which 
requires that any funds received from the sale of helium will be used 
to pay down our country's debt.
  I'm sure many of my colleagues would agree when I say our country's 
deficit is one of the top problems that we face. In fact, if we 
continue on this path, by the time my 13-year-old son is a freshman in 
college, this country will be paying more interest on the debt than we 
spend on national defense.
  I understand this problem cannot be solved with one swift move; 
however, if we are not able to make reasonable changes to policies and 
allow additional revenue to reduce our debt, our children and 
grandchildren will not be given the chance to continue this country's 
greatness.
  Due to the importance of protecting our children and grandchildren, 
we should support this amendment. It puts us one step closer to 
addressing our country's biggest problem. For this reason, I ask my 
colleagues to support this amendment.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. This is a commonsense amendment that will 
only enhance the benefits achieved by the underlying bill and by 
ensuring we privatize deficit reduction and effectively utilize the 
savings the bill creates.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. Does any Member wish to claim 5 minutes in 
opposition?
  Seeing none, the question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                  Amendment No. 2 Offered by Mr. Dent

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 2 
printed in House Report 113-47.
  Mr. DENT. I seek to offer an amendment and address the House.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 19, after line 17, insert the following:
       (c) Existing Contracts Not Affected.--
       (1) In general.--Nothing in this Act or the amendments made 
     by this Act shall be construed to affect any covered contract 
     between the Bureau of Land Management and any person that 
     owns--
       (A) helium stored in the Federal Helium Reserve (as that 
     term is used in those amendments); or
       (B) a helium enrichment unit that is part of the Federal 
     Helium Reserve.
       (2) Covered contract.--In this subsection the term 
     ``covered contract'' means a contract relating to the 
     operation of the Federal Helium Reserve, that is in effect on 
     the date of enactment of this Act.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 178, the gentleman 
from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, our amendment, the Dent-Higgins-Esty 
amendment, ensures the continued supply of helium for end users while 
requiring the BLM, Bureau of Land Management, to honor existing 
contracts for the supply and delivery of this vital resource. Most 
importantly, the amendment protects American manufacturers who use 
helium from the uncertainty of a disrupted helium supply. It's 
absolutely essential.
  Some of my colleagues have repeatedly stated that helium has been 
given away by BLM at rock-bottom prices to ``a monopoly of refiners.'' 
Respectfully, the current price structure says otherwise.
  Since BLM began selling off helium under this program, during most 
years far less than all the helium available to be purchased was 
purchased. In fact, during some years, no helium was purchased at all.
  If the price were really so low, wouldn't all the available helium 
have been purchased? Instead, the BLM price set for the purchase of 
crude helium has been higher than the crude price for helium purchased 
elsewhere in the United States. Further, there is absolutely no bar to 
the taxpayer getting much more revenue from helium sales today. BLM can 
impose higher prices for helium right now. In fact, over the past 3 
years, BLM has raised its prices by 30 percent.
  When the Congress in 1996 decided to privatize helium in the BLM 
reserve, a few companies stepped up and spent tens of millions of 
dollars to build a helium enrichment unit, which the BLM operates, a 
highly unusual public-private partnership. If there are only a few 
companies who refine helium out of the BLM reserve today, it is because 
they, and not their competitors, chose to make investments that have 
benefited our Nation's manufacturers and society generally.
  Our amendment does not seek to preserve a so-called ``monopoly'' over 
our Federal helium supply. Instead, our amendment seeks to uphold these 
existing contract and property rights while ensuring a continued supply 
of helium for domestic manufacturers. In fact, many welders, the 
Welders Association, Welders Distributors Association, strongly support 
this amendment because they are deeply concerned. I'm just going to 
quickly read what they said. They are deeply concerned about ``the 
effect of the remedies fashioned in H.R. 527 on the stability of the 
existing market for helium particularly as they affect the ability to 
meet contractual obligations for product supply.''
  With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim time in 
opposition.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield myself 2 minutes.
  Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment.
  While it is being sold as an attempt to protect contract and property 
rights, it does none of these things because there are no rights that 
are violated by this bill.
  What the amendment actually does is undermine the free-market 
competition that is embodied in H.R. 527 that will ensure a fair return 
to taxpayers on the Federal helium that is in the repository.
  This amendment seeks to guarantee a special carve-out for primarily 
three companies and thus block competition. For over a decade, these 
three companies have profited from helium handouts at low market prices 
that were granted to them by BLM. All of that ends, Mr. Chairman, in 
October of this year. These handouts end because the contracts say that 
when the money is paid back that the Federal Government has invested, 
these contracts end.
  So this amendment does not protect existing valid contracts because 
they expire in October. What the amendment actually would do is revise 
the expiring special handouts of these three companies. The amendment 
would shut down competition from other bidders who may be willing to 
bid for a higher price of the helium.
  I have a letter from three companies who jointly express strong 
opposition because it would prevent them in the future from bidding on 
this helium. And to be clear, there are no helium distributors or 
manufacturers of helium who are advocating for this amendment. It is 
just the three refiners.
  To repeat, H.R. 527 does not alter or end existing contracts. In the 
actual clauses of these contracts, it specifically stated that the 
contracts are contingent upon BLM continuing to have authorization to 
run the reserves. That ends in October.
  BLM has been selling helium at below-market prices, and I'll point 
that out later. But what this amendment really attempts to do is to end 
what should not be done.
  With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

[[Page H2362]]

  Mr. DENT. At this time, I would like to yield 1 minute to my 
colleague from New York (Mr. Higgins).

                              {time}  1030

  Mr. HIGGINS. I thank my friend and colleague for yielding.
  Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank Congressman Charlie Dent and 
Congresswoman Esty for working together on this bipartisan amendment. 
Our amendment would ensure that the Bureau of Land Management 
implements free market reforms while respecting its contractual 
obligations. High-tech manufacturing, MRIs, nuclear power reactors, and 
a host of critical national defense applications require helium.
  Congress asked American companies to partner with the Federal 
Government to build the infrastructure needed to extract, store, and 
refine and bring to market this valuable domestic resource. Now that 
the infrastructure is built out, this legislation seeks to break our 
contracts with those partners. This is unfair and unnecessary.
  Our amendment simply affirms that the Bureau of Land Management will 
honor its existing contracts that are set forth to expire over the next 
couple of years. I urge a ``yes'' vote on this bipartisan amendment to 
demonstrate that we can reform our helium policy in a way that respects 
the agreements and contracts we've made.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to yield 
2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt), a cosponsor of 
H.R. 527.
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman of the committee again 
for bringing forward this bipartisan legislation, and I rise in strong 
opposition to this amendment.
  The Federal Helium Reserve is in rapid decline. It is being 
exhausted. At the current drawdown rate, in 5 or 6 or 7 years the 
helium in the reserve will be largely depleted.
  The amendment by Mr. Dent seeks to run out the clock on this 
legislation to allow the existing regime to stand and prevent the 
reforms that H.R. 527 would bring forward. H.R. 527 does not alter or 
end the contracts that the refiners have with the Bureau of Land 
Management, but if we do nothing and allow the gentleman's amendment to 
go forward, under existing law and terms of those contracts, the entire 
helium program would come to an end in October of 2013--this year.
  The amendment would delay the implementation of the reforms in the 
bill until 2018 at which time it is likely there would be little helium 
left to distribute to anyone, to the hospitals and the doctors who need 
it, to the electronics manufacturers who need it, to the scientists and 
researchers who need it. This amendment would gut the bipartisan 
reforms of the bill, and it should be defeated.
  Although the gentleman claims he wants to prevent disruption in the 
supply, by preventing this legislation, he would in fact do just that. 
He would create disruptions in the supply.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlelady from 
Connecticut (Ms. Esty).
  Ms. ESTY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment to H.R. 
527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. I would 
like to thank Representative Dent and Representative Higgins for 
working together on this bipartisan amendment.
  Our amendment is rather straightforward. It is about fairness and 
honoring contracts. At a time in our Nation's history when we are 
examining public-private partnerships to rebuild our infrastructure and 
create jobs, what kind of signal would we be sending to the private 
sector? What kind of certainty are we providing to the private sector 
that even if you have a valid contract that expires in 2015, the 
Federal Government will throw it out and change the rules?
  We can pass a bill to prevent a global helium shortage by allowing 
the remainder of the helium from the reserve to be sold, but we should 
not ignore the contracts that BLM has already signed. I urge a ``yes'' 
vote on this bipartisan amendment.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, how much time remains?
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania has 45 seconds 
remaining. The gentleman from Washington has 1\1/4\ minutes remaining.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Do I have the right to close?
  The Acting CHAIR. Yes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I just want to quickly address a few of the 
issues.
  My friend, Mr. Holt, said that these reservoirs will be depleted. I 
agree. The issue is who's going to invest in an enrichment and refining 
facility at a reservoir that's going to be depleted in 5 years. 
Nobody's going to make that investment. That's really what's at issue 
here.
  The prices of helium have gone up. BLM can charge more. Our amendment 
is about respecting preexisting contracts and about protecting property 
rights while ensuring continued supply of helium to American 
manufacturers.
  Without this amendment, there will be a real disruption of supply for 
helium because they won't be contractually able to release that helium. 
They will be under no obligation to release it, so I think that is the 
greatest threat. This amendment protects the helium supply. As has been 
mentioned, MRIs, computer chips, and fiber optics all need this. 
American manufacturing needs this. Support this amendment. Vote for a 
helium supply. And again, vote to support our welders.
  I yield back the balance of my time.

                                                 Gases and Welding


                                     Distributors Association,

                                        Doral, FL, April 25, 2013.
     Hon. Charlie Dent,
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Dent: The Gases and Welding Distributors 
     Association (``GAWDA'') offers its support to your proposed 
     amendment to H.R. 527, legislation to reauthorize the sale of 
     the Federal Helium Reserve.
       GAWDA is a national trade association representing the 
     interests of some 500 companies that distribute compressed 
     and liquefied gases and related welding equipment, and 
     includes some 300 additional companies that supply products 
     or services to the gases and welding industry. GAWDA 
     distributor members sell a variety of products, including 
     helium, oxygen, argon, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, as well 
     as specialty gases and mixtures, to customers involved in 
     manufacturing, construction, welding, research, health care, 
     and biomedical engineering.
       Most GAWDA members are small businesses. Approximately 85 
     percent of GAWDA distributors have less than $10 million in 
     annual gross revenue, so they have limited leverage in 
     negotiating supply agreements for products. In the vast 
     majority of cases, GAWDA distributors will contract 
     exclusively with a single manufacturer (or in the case of 
     helium, a refiner) for a comprehensive menu of gas products. 
     The contract generally will provide all of the distributor's 
     needs for all of those gases.
       In addition, the distributor will generally contract with 
     its customers in an exclusive ``requirements'' arrangement to 
     supply all of the customer's needs for a variety of gases as 
     well. A small distributor might have a couple of dozen 
     contracts to supply helium and other gases to customers, 
     while a large distributor might have several hundred or more 
     of these requirements contracts.
       The GAWDA distributor will typically purchase bulk helium 
     in gaseous form from a refiner; the distributor will then 
     repackage the helium into compressed gas cylinders and 
     deliver them to customers for their use.
       GAWDA distributors are concerned, however, about the effect 
     of the remedies fashioned in H.R. 527 on the stability of the 
     existing market for helium, particularly as they affect the 
     ability to meet contractual obligations for product supply.
       A periodic auction mechanism would set up a spot market for 
     helium. If an established refiner is not able to secure all 
     of the crude helium that it requires to meet the supply 
     obligations set out in its contracts, then some distributor 
     customers will receive less than their contractual allotments 
     of helium, or perhaps none at all. The distributor will be 
     forced to seek other sources of supply, presumably only if a 
     force majeure clause in the agreement allows the distributor 
     to obtain replacement product from another supplier.
       In turn, if the distributor defaults, the distributor's 
     customers might be forced to seek alternative supplies of 
     helium for at least part of their needs for that period, and 
     to pay above market prices to the winning auction bidder(s) 
     to ensure a continuous supply of product. This also raises 
     questions of the effect on the contractual obligations to 
     sell and purchase the other gases in the contracts.
       This same scenario will play out each time an auction is 
     held, several times a year. Refiners, distributors and end 
     users will not know which parties will have adequate supplies 
     of helium to meet existing contractual demands. This will 
     generate legal questions about contract default, partial 
     product allocations, mitigation of damages, and obligations 
     to cure, as well as commercial questions about which parties 
     may be able to meet supply obligations on a consistent basis. 
     The distributor will have to resolve these issues with each 
     customer for that auction period; when another auction takes 
     place, and different sales volumes of helium are awarded by 
     BLM to new bidders, the distributors will have to go through 
     the same

[[Page H2363]]

     legal and commercial exercise to ensure that each of their 
     customers will receive enough product to meet its 
     requirements.
       An unreliable product stream for helium will make it 
     difficult for any distributor to entertain long-term, 
     exclusive supply arrangements with customers that foster 
     stable commercial relations and support economic growth.
       Your amendment would protect those existing agreements 
     between the Bureau of Land Management and refiners for a 
     sufficient period to allow refiners and distributors to 
     develop alternative arrangements and to access new supplies 
     of crude helium. That approach will help to ensure a reliable 
     supply of this critical product to all end users.
       Thank you for your assistance with this issue.
           Best Regards,
                                            Richard P. Schweitzer,
                                                  General Counsel.

  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield myself the balance of my time.
  The assertion is made that this violates contracts. I want to be very 
specific: current law says that when the debt is paid back, the 
contracts that are entered into expire. Therefore, we are not violating 
any contracts because on October 1 that will happen.
  Secondly, the pricing mechanism. I pointed out in opening remarks 
that the three refiners are the ones that are benefiting, and this 
chart shows how. This is what they are paying, the blue line. That's 
the bottom line. The red line is the market price. The yellow in 
between is what the refiners are accruing as far as profits are 
concerned. We're simply saying the market ought to dictate who gets 
that benefit, and that's precisely what H.R. 527 does. So this 
amendment simply prolongs the yellow, if you will, on this chart 
longer, and only three companies benefit by that. I don't think that's 
good for the taxpayers because the taxpayers are the ones that are 
failing or getting the low end of the deal with that yellow line.
  So while I understand where the gentleman is coming from, and I 
respect him for bringing this issue to the floor--it is good to have a 
debate on it--no contracts are violated under current law. I urge my 
colleagues to reject this amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent).
  The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further 
proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania 
will be postponed.


                  Amendment No. 3 Offered by Mr. Holt

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 3 
printed in House Report 113-47.
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 27, strike ``and'' at line 6, and after line 6 insert 
     the following (and redesignate the subsequent paragraph 
     accordingly):
       (4) complete an assessment of options for ensuring a 
     domestic helium supply in the future, including--
       (A) an analysis of how the Federal Helium Reserve has 
     influenced domestic and global helium supply and prices 
     historically; and
       (B) an assessment of options for how the Federal Helium 
     Reserve could promote the long term availability and security 
     of domestic helium supplies; and

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 178, the gentleman 
from New Jersey (Mr. Holt) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  My amendment is quite simple. It would expand the study section of 
the act to provide an assessment of how the eventual closure of the 
Federal Helium Reserve would influence the availability of this 
critical resource in the future.
  Let me take just a moment to say a little bit about why this is 
important. Helium is the second-lightest gas in existence. It remains 
liquid down to absolute zero. It is chemically very inert. It is hardly 
soluble in water or other fluids. It can be made into a quantum 
superfluid that flows without any viscous resistance at all. These are 
unique properties that make helium invaluable, necessary, irreplaceable 
for uses in magnetic resonance imaging in doctors' offices and 
hospitals, for fabricating electronic devices, for all sorts of 
research, whether it be in quantum computing or superfluids in any 
number of other areas.
  Why is this a policy issue worthy of the consideration of the U.S. 
Congress? Well, because this invaluable, irreplaceable element is very 
rare on Earth. It is in fact the second most common element in the 
universe, but it has long since risen up through the atmosphere of the 
Earth and vanished into space. And small amounts of helium are created 
moment by moment deep in the Earth through radioactive decay caught in 
natural gas reserves, along with methane and the other things that we 
call natural gas. But it is rare, and it is difficult to separate, and 
yet we need it.
  Farsighted legislators three-quarters of a century ago began 
stockpiling helium. They thought it would be used for dirigibles and 
blimps. They weren't sure what else it would be used for, but they 
understood helium had some very special properties.

                              {time}  1040

  It was a good investment for taxpayers. It was a very good investment 
for taxpayers that this stockpile was created.
  Now the stockpile is running low because of decisions by Congress in 
past years. It's important that, as we make the decisions and the 
changes that we make with this legislation, we not fail to recognize 
possible future uses, possible future demands, and possible failure of 
the market to provide an adequate supply of helium to meet those 
demands.
  I know there is an ideology that's prevalent around here for any 
commodity, for any human need, that the market will provide. In fact, 
it doesn't always. And in this case, in the helium over the decades, it 
would not have, had it not been for the Federal Reserve. So it is 
important that we stop and take a look at the implications for the 
future.
  And so my amendment would simply expand the study section that 
already exists in this legislation to make sure that we look at 
possible future uses, likely future supplies, and making sure that we 
are prepared to have an adequate supply of this valuable resource into 
the future. It should be a noncontroversial amendment. I hope it will 
be unopposed, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to 
claim time in opposition to the amendment, although I am not opposed to 
the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time 
as I may consume.
  I want to start by saying that the development of this legislation 
has truly been a bipartisan effort. I want to thank my colleague from 
New Jersey, who has been a leader in helping us bring this legislation 
to the floor.
  One of the main goals of H.R. 527 is to stop the imminent shutdown of 
the Federal helium program this October by establishing a new program 
to complete the privatization of the helium reserve. However, this 
action remains only a Band-Aid to our long-term helium supply.
  Helium, like many other resources, is something that requires 
significant investment and development to bring to market. While this 
bill will keep the helium flowing from the reserve, the future of the 
reserve is limited to only a handful of years. So the gentleman's 
amendment is really a question of what do we do next, and that's a good 
question.
  The idea that, when the reserve closes, America could be left at the 
mercy of Qatar or Russia for securing our domestic helium is not a 
prospect that we relish any more than being dependent on China for rare 
Earth materials. And yet no one thinks that the solution is for the 
government to jump back into the helium business. Instead, we need to 
continue our focus on this issue to prevent resource scarcity that 
could threaten our manufacturing and national security.

[[Page H2364]]

  While I understand there have been some initial conversations, I want 
to make it clear that this is not the last time that the committee will 
focus on the issue of helium. It is my intention that the committee 
examine other areas where we may be able to expand helium supply or 
promote additional steps for conservation.
  The report directed to be developed in this bill will help guide our 
effort forward, and the gentleman's amendment will add additional 
important questions to help provide us a path forward. But it is up to 
us to act and continue to focus on what is a critical national security 
and economic security concern: a secure, stable supply of helium.
  So I look forward to continuing to work with the gentleman from New 
Jersey as we seek these solutions, and I think his amendment adds to 
that prospect.
  With that, I support the amendment and yield back the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt).
  The amendment was agreed to.


               Amendment No. 4 Offered by Mr. Thornberry

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 4 
printed in House Report 113-47.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Chairman, I offer the amendment made in order 
under the rule.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Add at the end the following:

     SEC. __. ADDITIONAL CONNECTIONS TO THE FEDERAL HELIUM 
                   RESERVE.

       The Secretary of the Interior may allow any person not 
     connected to the Federal Helium Reserve, as that term is 
     defined under section 2 of the Helium Act (50 U.S.C. 167), as 
     amended by this Act, to connect to the Federal Helium Reserve 
     for the purpose of storing helium, subject to such storage 
     fees as may be required by the Secretary. Withdrawal of such 
     helium shall be governed by that Act.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 178, the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Thornberry) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Chairman, let me first commend and express my 
appreciation to Chairman Hastings and Mr. Holt and others who have 
worked on this legislation. Indeed, we have come a long way from the 
days when helium was essentially a government-run monopoly to this 
legislation, which helps bring in more market forces, more competition, 
more free enterprise, and, I think, will help move toward developing 
more supplies of helium in the future, as was just discussed on the 
last amendment.
  It is in exactly that spirit that I offer this amendment which seeks 
to affirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to allow 
others who are not currently connected to the helium repository to 
connect to it and to store their helium there, assuming, of course, 
they've got to pay their own way. So whatever costs are incurred with 
allowing others to connect and to store, those costs have to be met by 
the individuals, not by the taxpayer.
  But by doing that, I think we do at least take a step towards 
encouraging more helium supplies to be developed. And the side benefit 
is, as these other helium supplies are stored in the repository, that 
helps keep the pressure up in the dome so that, ultimately, more 
helium, government helium and private helium, can be extracted.
  So I think this is perfectly in keeping with the theme of the bill. 
It moves in the right direction to encourage the expansion of more 
helium supplies, and I hope that the Members will consider it 
favorably.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. THORNBERRY. I yield to the chairman.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for bringing this 
amendment to the floor. He made the observation in his debate that this 
is something that we were talking about in the previous debate, because 
we're going to have to have more helium; and market forces, I believe, 
are one way to do that, and I think his amendment addresses that.
  I support the amendment.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. I thank the gentleman.
  Mr. HOLT. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. THORNBERRY. I will be happy to yield to the gentleman from New 
Jersey (Mr. Holt).
  Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend from Texas, and I think the gentleman's 
amendment is a good one. It will clarify that producers of helium may 
connect to the Federal helium reserve to store helium. And by seeking 
to provide incentives for additional production and storage, I think 
his amendment will provide a public service.
  I think, as the gentleman has said, we should examine ways that we 
can use the reserve to maximize the American supply of helium in the 
decades ahead. So I support him in this, and I urge all of my 
colleagues to do so.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. I thank both gentlemen, Mr. Chairman.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Thornberry).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee 
do now rise.
  The motion was agreed to.
  Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. 
Dent) having assumed the chair, Mr. Hultgren, Acting Chair of the 
Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that 
that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 527) to 
amend the Helium Act to complete the privatization of the Federal 
helium reserve in a competitive market fashion that ensures stability 
in the helium markets while protecting the interests of American 
taxpayers, and for other purposes, had come to no resolution thereon.

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