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Mr. LAMBORN. I thank the chairman of the full committee for allowing me to speak. I rise in strong support of H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act.
Our House Natural Resources Committee passed this bipartisan legislation by voice vote, and I encourage my colleagues in the full House to do the same. The Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act adds free market reforms to the current system. The current system allows a small number of companies to have access to and benefit from the taxpayer resource, which is helium, but it's a good thing to broaden the base of those who are most benefiting from this resource.
There is currently some instability in the marketplace for American companies that are the end users of helium. These companies employ thousands of Americans, and they rely upon a dependable supply of helium for their business every day. This includes defense companies, medical companies, manufacturing companies, and a variety of users.
Numerous government reports--from the Department of Interior Inspector General to the Government Accountability Office to the National Academy of Sciences--have all come to the same conclusion: we need to reform the current system.
The current system allows a select group of companies to buy a critical Federal resource at significantly below market value to the exclusion of other companies. There are historical reasons how this situation developed, but we have to look to the future and what's best for the economy moving forward.
As a result, the American people are potentially being denied tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars of additional revenue because this Federal taxpayer resource is sometimes being sold at under-market values.
It should be noted that over 20 organizations and end-user companies representing high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, aerospace technologies, life-saving medical devices, chemicals, fiber optic, and scientific researchers who require helium as an essential part of their daily business support this bill. H.R. 527 will ensure that these industries employing thousands of Americans and vital to the United States can obtain a reliable and secure source of helium while ensuring American taxpayers that they receive the best possible market value for this taxpayer resource.
H.R. 527 will end the current allotment system and add free market components to the BLM helium program. This will increase transparency between companies and the BLM and ensure that purchasers of helium will have timely access to the pipeline to ensure delivery of the helium that they have purchased.
This bill is supported by the ITI, and I urge your support of this legislation.
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