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House, 314-100, Passes Broad Energy Bill; Bush Plans to Sign It

WASHINGTON — Legislation that will slowly but significantly change the cars Americans drive, the fuel they burn, the way they light their homes and the price they pay for food cleared the House on Tuesday by a large margin. President Bush said he would sign it on Wednesday.

The bill, which passed on a bipartisan vote of 314 to 100, sets higher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the first time in 22 years and requires the annual production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, a fivefold increase from current ethanol production levels.

The measure, the Energy Independence and Security Act, also establishes new efficiency requirements for household appliances and government buildings, and aims to phase out the incandescent light bulb within the next decade.

Its passage is one of the largest steps on energy the nation has taken since the oil crises of the 1970s. But its full costs will not be known for years. Critics say it will make cars and trucks less safe and more expensive, divert farmland to costly production of feedstock for ethanol and other synthetic fuels, and raise the price of food because of competition for corn and grain between food producers and fuel refiners.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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