The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

November 22, 2012

Slate: Macy's parade contributes to loss of helium supplies

(Continued)

The source of the helium we use now was discovered in 1903 in Dexter, Kan., when drillers happened upon gas that didn't burn. They were disappointed, but chemists eventually studied the gas and realized that natural gas deposits in the United States often contain helium in single-digit percentages. As it turned out, the Great Plains was hiding enormous amounts of helium, and the United States quickly became, and remains today, the world's biggest supplier of helium. Many uses were found for the gas — in particular, lighter-than-air travel. In 1925, the United States created the National Helium Reserve to ensure our dominance in the zeppelin wars that were sure to come. (The Hindenburg was filled with the very flammable hydrogen rather than helium because the United States controlled helium supplies and was loath to provide the gas to Germany.) In 1960, demand for helium increased, so Congress created incentives for natural gas producers to sell their helium to the helium reserve. This helium has been stored by the Bureau of Land Management in giant underground caverns in the Texas panhandle to this day.

By 1996, the BLM had a large amount of helium, but the agency was also $1.6 billion in debt. To offset that debt, the Helium Privatization Act was passed to sell the government's reserve to private companies. Unlike the strategic petroleum reserve that is maintained for emergencies, the helium reserve was seen as a financial burden.

The solution was to sell it off as fast as possible. The price was determined by dividing the existing debt by the remaining volume of helium. It wasn't chosen by assessing supply and demand, but was based on recouping the cost of running the BLM facility. This is analogous to digging up gold in your backyard then selling it at a price sufficient to pay for the shovel you used.

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • School supplies offered at events

    With students going back to school soon, Clinton families will have two opportunities to receive free back-to-school supplies.

    July 30, 2014

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • YWCA offers lifeguard training

    CLINTON — The YWCA will offer lifeguard training in August.The course will be held from Aug. 4 to 10 at the YWCA. This 30-hour class will meet from 5 to 9 p.m. for four weeknights and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. A possibility of adding a class from 1

    July 25, 2014

  • GPS race Teams race to complete challenges THOMSON, Ill. — A challenge in August will pit teams against each other to complete a series of challenges.The event will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson. Armed with GPS units, teams

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Habitat for Humanity hosts fundraiser

    CLINTON — Habitat for Humanity will host a fundraiser in Thomson, Illinois.The Clinton County group will showcase Laid Back Luau from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at Heirloom Cafe in Thomson. The event will feature games, prizes, music train rides for

    July 25, 2014

  • Fire departments undergo grain bin rescue training OMAHA — The Goose Lake and Lost Nation Volunteer Fire Departments each have received lifesaving grain bin rescue equipment through a donation from Farm Credit Services of America.Goose Lake received its equipment July 14 and Lost Nation on July 15. E

    July 24, 2014

  • ADM donates $75K for fire boat purchase CLINTON — Archer Daniels Midland Company has donated $75,000 to the city of Clinton for a new fire and rescue boat for the Clinton Fire Department.The boat will help the fire department respond to fires, administer emergency medical services and resp

    July 24, 2014

  • Students get first-hand look at non-profits CLINTON — An upcoming event will showcase Clinton area’s non-profits to incoming Ashford University students.The second Fresh START (Serving to Achieve Results Together) event will be held Saturday, Aug. 16. Students and staff members will serve at v

    July 23, 2014

  • Friend of the Fair Two honored as 'Friends' MORRISON, Ill. — The Whiteside County Fair recently announced its 2014 Friend of the Fair. Paul Vock and Dan Heusinkveld are this year’s honorees. The two men have been involved with the fair for decades.Vock started with the fair in 1971 as the Heav

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.