Linde applauds leaders of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for moving forward quickly with helium legislation;

Key committee meeting scheduled for Thursday

May 15, 2013, 09:30 ET from Linde North America

Murray Hill N.J. and New Providence, N.J., May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Linde North America praised the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for working quickly to advance legislation to reauthorize the Federal government's helium program, which is the source of 40 percent of the nation's helium. Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have scheduled a committee meeting for Thursday, May 16, to vote on the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013.  The Committee held a hearing on the bill last week.

Linde's global head of bulk, helium and rare gases, Joe Horn, said that the Senate bill would help stabilize helium markets and prevent disruptions in helium supply.  Without legislation, the Federal Helium Reserve, operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), would be forced to cease operations in the fall, most likely in October. Helium is critical to the manufacture of semiconductors, LCD screens, fiber optic cable and MRI machines. Linde refines helium that comes from the Federal Reserve and provides it to high-tech manufacturers.

"I want to congratulate Senator Wyden and Senator Murkowski for working so quickly to put together bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Helium Reserve," said Horn.  "It is critically important to the economy that this program be continued.  The Senate Helium Stewardship Act injects market forces into the helium program, while at the same time maintaining the stability and certainty that high-tech industries depend."

The Wyden-Murkowski bill would gradually phase in an auction process for the sale of federal helium and institute a number of other reforms to the long-running program.  Nick Haines, Linde's head of helium source development, argued that phasing in the auction would ensure that the government receives fair market prices for helium while preventing market disruptions in existing supply chains.  "The Helium Stewardship Act is a reasonable approach to solving the issue," Haines said.  "Gradually phasing in an auction of the federal helium will attract bidders, will establish a market price, and, just as importantly, will help discourage hoarding, speculation, and other disruptive behaviors that occur in unpredictable markets. We urge Congress to support passage of this bill."

Linde North America is a member of the Linde Group, a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 62,000 employees in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2012 financial year, Linde generated revenue of EUR 15.280 bn (USD 19.9 bn). The strategy of the Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

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SOURCE Linde North America