Congress Approves Fuel Economy Bill

19 12 2007

Congress Approves Fuel Economy Bill
By AP/H. JOSEF HEBERT

“WASHINGTON) — Congress by a wide margin approved the first increase in automobile fuel economy in 32 years Tuesday, and President Bush plans to quickly sign the legislation, accepting the mandates on the auto industry.
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The energy bill, boosting mileage by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon, passed the House 314-100 and now goes to the White House, following the Senate’s approved last week.

In a statement, the White House said Bush will sign the legislation at the Energy Department on Wednesday.

In a dramatic shift to spur increased demand for nonfossil fuels, the bill also requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, a boon to farmers. And it requires new energy efficiency standards for an array of appliances, lighting and commercial and government buildings.

“This is a choice between yesterday and tomorrow” on energy policy, declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was closely involved in crafting the legislation. “It’s groundbreaking in what it will do.”

While some GOP lawmakers criticized the bill for failing to address the need for more domestic oil and natural gas production, 95 GOP lawmakers joined Democrats in support of the bill.

“This legislation is a historic turning point in energy policy,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland because it will cut demand for foreign oil and promote nonfossil fuels that will cut greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

It increases energy efficiency “from light bulbs to light trucks,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a longtime protector of the auto industry who was key to a compromise on vehicle efficiency increases.

Many Republicans denounced the Democratic-crafted bill for failing to push for more domestic production of fossil fuels and for mandates some GOP lawmakers warned will not be possible.

“What we have here is a mandatory conservation bill,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. He argued that the auto fuel efficiency requirements and the huge increase in ethanol use may not prove to be technologically or economically possible…”

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