In 1962, Congress established The Bush Dome Helium Reserves 3,000 feet under a depleted gas field outside Amarillo, Texas. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees the Federal Helium Reserves, which stores 42% of the U.S.'s and 30% of the world's supply.
Over the past 16 years, under the Helium Privatization Act of 1996, the reserves were sold off, artificially depressing worldwide prices. But as the drawdown neared, prices spiked. Last year, the government charged $75.75 per thousand cubic feet of helium, an all-time high; the private sector charged $160.
Though demand for helium will rise 7%-10% next year, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 will slow the sell off and transition helium pricing to private rates. Additionally, by 2018, new mining operations should produce helium surpluses.