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US House passes sweeping energy bill

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 6, 2007
The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a sweeping energy bill, which mandates a rise in fuel efficiency standards for most cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

The bill, passed by 235 votes to 181, includes a 21 billion dollar tax incentive package, and Democrats say it would decrease US reliance on foreign oil, cut energy costs, and help reduce global warming.

The White House has however vowed to veto the legislation, saying it raises taxes on energy sources for consumers and says the fuel economy standards are mandated in a way that would prompt lengthy legal challenges.

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the legislation, expected to be taken up by the US Senate next week, as "a shot heard 'round the world for energy independence in our country."

The party's House majority leader Steny Hoyer meanwhile said the bill would help "cast off the chains" of dependency on foreign oil threatening US national security.

But Republican minority leader John Boehner dismissed the legislation as a "no-energy" bill that did little to expand US sources of electricity and fuel, and would cost jobs and therefore increase dependence on foreign oil.

The bill will raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on most cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

The current CAFE standard is around 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and just over 22 miles per gallon for light trucks.

Pressure for such a deal has been mounting as Americans become increasingly frustrated at rising gasoline prices, and amid warnings that the United States must wean itself of foreign oil from the unstable Middle East.

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