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Two from Fort Worth appointed by Gov. Abbott to university boards

Steve Hicks, a University of Texas System regent who has been a vocal opponent of regents who have criticized the system’s flagship campus in Austin, was reappointed to the board by Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday. 

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Fort Worth draws closer to deal with Lancaster developer

City staff are planning to introduce the developer Feb. 3 at a meeting of the City Council's Housing and Economic Development Committee.

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Compass BBVA names Happel CEO for Fort Worth

BBVA Compass has appointed Brian Happel, most recently the Fort Worth city president, its chief executive officer of Fort Worth.

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Energy Transfer Partners, Regency Energy announce $18B merger

Energy Transfer Partners LP of Dallas and Regency Energy Partners LP have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

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Fort Worth minority business receives nationwide grant

Cuevas Distribution Inc., a minority- and woman-owned business in Fort Worth, is one of 20 small businesses nationwide to receive a $150,000 grant from Chase as part of the Mission Main Street program.

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Senate passes bill to avert helium shortage
 


MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Break out the balloons.

Congress moved a step closer Thursday to averting an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a products ranging from party balloons to MRI machines.

The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation's helium from a storage site near Amarillo, Texas, is set to shut down Oct. 7 unless lawmakers intervene. The shutdown is a result of a 1996 law requiring the reserve to pay off a $1.3 billion debt by selling its helium.

The debt is paid, but billions of cubic feet of helium remain. Closing the reserve would cause a worldwide helium shortage — an outcome lawmakers from both parties hope to avoid.

The Senate approved a bill Thursday, 97-2, to continue the helium program, following action in the House this spring.

Preserving access to the federal helium supply "prevents a shock to the health care sector and other critical industries that depend on helium," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said. "Protecting America's manufacturing base, its research capabilities, its health care system and its national security by temporarily extending the life of the (federal) helium program is just common sense."

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States depend on a reliable supply of helium.

If the federal government stops selling helium to private entities, "a significant delay might not just slow the production of computer chips, but the computers, life-saving medical devices and weapons systems that they power," Simpson said.

Micron Technology, a Boise-based semiconductor manufacturer, is among companies that depend on helium, Simpson said. The computer chip industry employs a quarter-million people nationwide, Simpson said.

The Senate bill approved Thursday differs slightly from a bill approved in the House in April. President Barack Obama favors the Senate version.

A statement by the White House called helium an essential resource for the aerospace industry and production of computer chips and optical fiber, as well as medical uses including MRI machines and medical lasers. Helium also is used in national defense applications such as rocket engine testing and purging, surveillance devices and scientific balloons.

"The impending abrupt shutdown of this program would cause a spike in helium prices that would harm many U.S. industries and disrupt national security programs,'" the White House said.

 

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