Amarillo used to be the helium capital of the world, but with a global shortage on helium and the fast approaching expiration of the 1996 Helium Privatization Act, that hasn't been the case.
Businesses of all kind in Amarillo have taken a hit from the shortage. If President Obama signs the Helium Stewardship Bill, there will be come changes coming to the helium industry.
"The 8.6 billion cubic feet of helium that belongs to the government that's stored in the ground will be offered up for sale to private industry, generating roughly 200 million dollars a year in sales," said Samuel Burton, assistant field manager of the Amarillo helium operation. This act will ensure a supply of helium and open it up to private markets through the year 2023.
So what does this mean for amarillo?
Burton said that there will be a 10 million dollar local impact. It will also save 47 jobs in Amarillo . These jobs would have been lost in October without the bill.
This money will go towards salaries of the workers here, water filtration, plumbing and local electricians.
A side from the actual helium , the shortage has affected something essential to every party. Party stores everywhere have had to limit the sale of helium balloons.
"W hen people are used to releasing a hundred balloons to honor somebody's memory and now they have to do 50 or 10.. its kind of depressing and sad ," said Sylvia Valenzuela, manager at Card and Party Factory.
C urrently, the amarillo division supplies about 42 percent of helium for the domestic market.