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David Joyner, president of Air Liquide Helium America, said if the Senate waits until late 2014 to hold its first auction, it should take immediate steps to allocate a fair share of helium to non-refiners and buyers without long-standing access to the reserve.

“Another year of 100 percent allocation to three companies is antithetical to the goals supported in this legislation, and would again postpone any benefits that would accrue to taxpayers and end users by increasing competition and access,” he said.

Timothy R. Spisak, a deputy assistant director at the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the reserve, told the committee on Tuesday that his agency supports the senators’ bill.