DANBURY, Conn., May 7, 2013 -- Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX) applauds today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Federal Helium Program and the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 - the product of two years of bipartisan consultation among all stakeholders on how to conclude the Federal Helium Program while maximizing public revenue.
Legislation to complete the privatization of the Federal Government’s helium stockpile is an important and serious matter. Helium is more than a gas that lifts party balloons. It is a crucial ingredient in the manufacture and operation in many important areas including medical MRI machines, communications satellites, semiconductors and fiber optics. Praxair urges Congress to proceed carefully and thoughtfully to avoid jeopardizing jobs and research projects that rely on a stable supply of helium.
“The privatization of the Federal Helium Reserve in 1996 is an example of the value of public-private partnerships,” said Scott Kaltrider, Praxair’s vice president of business management and helium. “In this case, U.S. industrial gas companies invested in refining, enrichment, and distribution facilities which bring substantial value to assets owned by American taxpayers. The Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 preserves the value of this partnership while also instituting important free-market reforms.”
To meet the growing demand for helium, industrial gas companies have made substantial investments in expanding the global helium capacity with additional increases in global capacity scheduled to begin in the second half of the year. Investments in other helium projects in the US and globally are also currently underway.
The Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, introduced recently by Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, will provide continued stable access to the taxpayer owned helium supplies while industry starts up and continues to develop these new helium supplies.
Kaltrider said, “The Wyden-Murkowski Senate proposal provides a thoughtful approach that institutes free-market reforms while also ensuring access to all market participants. Unlike legislation recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate proposal protects the stability of the helium supply chain, avoids entanglements with existing contracts, and respects private property rights."
“By contrast, H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, if enacted into law as proposed, would replace the current, highly predictable helium supply system with a semi-annual auction that destabilizes the entire helium supply system.”
Praxair believes there is a responsible way to wind down the Federal Helium Program and address legitimate pricing concerns. Praxair thanks the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for taking a major step in the right direction.
Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2012 sales of $11 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric, process and specialty gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technologies are making our planet more productive by bringing efficiency and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair, Inc. is available on the Internet at www.praxair.com.
Susan Szita Gore