What goes up ain’t ever coming back

Even industrial tanks of helium like these can only hope to temporarily contain the world’s only truly irreplaceable element. (PHOTO: Ryan Bodenstein, Flickr CC)

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, entitled “A Fistful of Helium.”

This one’s been floating around my office like an old birthday balloon for several months. In fact, the helium discovery near Babbitt is one of the topics I’m most asked about when I’m out and about. I hadn’t written anything yet because, to be honest, I knew little to nothing about helium when I heard about it.

So, I spent the last few months getting wise to the the world’s most elusive gas, or at least wise enough to be useful. And what I found is that helium isn’t just unlike iron ore in the obvious ways, it’s also very different in terms of distribution and economic impact. Helium is light, and capturing the public’s share of the profits will be just as tricky as tying off balloons before they fly away.

Read more in the Minnesota Reformer.

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