Senate Passes Scaled-back Energy Bill

The U.S. Senate has approved an energy bill to raise fuel-economy standards and boost production of ethanol and other biofuels.

The measure (H.R. 6), received a 86-8 vote without two House-approved provisions: a $13 billion tax increase on oil companies and a requirement that utilities nationwide produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. Senate Republicans were opposed to both provisions, and the White House threatened to veto the measure, in part, over the tax hike.

While Senate Democrats were disappointed with the removal of the provisions, they stated that the bill is still a historic accomplishment.

"Compromise can be frustrating, it can be exasperating, and it can be maddening. But at the end of the day, compromise can lead to progress -- and that is exactly what we have," said Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

The bill's hallmark provision would boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to a fleetwide average of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This represents an increase of more than 10 miles per gallon from the current fleetwide average, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The bill also would bolster the country's Renewable Fuels Standard, requiring the production of as much as 36 billion gallons by 2022.

The House is expected to approve the bill this week.

For more information on the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov, a Web site of the Library of Congress.

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