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Congress approves auto fuel economy increase, more ethanol use

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ” Congress by a wide margin approved the first increase in automobile fuel economy in 32 years Tuesday, and President Bush has signaled he will accept the mandates on the auto industry.

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 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.


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