Stripped-down Energy Bill Sent To Bush

The House passed a historic energy bill today to boost the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks for the first time in more than 30 years, increase the production of ethanol and up the efficiency of lighting as a means of lowering energy costs for consumers.

Specifically, the measure – sent to President Bush on a 314-100 vote – is designed to slash U.S. oil consumption by more than 4 million barrels per day by 2030 and increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon in 2020.  It also aims to increase the efficiency of lighting by reducing emissions by 75 percent. 

The president is expected to sign the bill as early as Wednesday. After its final approval, House and Senate Democrats gathered in the Capitol to cheer.

Standing under a banner reading, “ A New Direction for Energy Security,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) said lawmakers delivered a promise they made to the American people at the start of the 110th Congress.

“This is a historic day for our country,” she said, as lawmakers and their aides applauded.  “This is like the ship leaving the port. We’re leaving the past, and we’re going into the future…We’ve taken this to a place that is very significant.”

Still, Pelosi added, “We know there’s more to be done.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) said the bill had faced a “long, hard struggle” and vowed to continue to push for two of the larger items that were stripped from it – a tax package that would have rolled back tax breaks for large oil companies and a provision that would have ordered utility companies to derive 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources. 

But Reid said, “This is a great, wonderful first step.” 

 After signing the bill with about half a dozen pens, Pelosi belted, “Yay!”

- Amie Parnes