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Bush Signs Major Energy and Transportation Bills

I’m Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

President Bush has signed into law the first energy policy act in more than ten years. He says problems like the high cost of fuel and the rising dependence on foreign oil will take years to solve. But he says the new law is a major step.

It offers tax savings to energy companies including those that develop sun and wind power, and also nuclear power. Tax breaks total fourteen and one-half thousand million dollars.

The new law requires federal buildings to cut energy use by twenty percent within ten years. And there are tax credits for buyers of solar-power systems and hybrid vehicles. These cars use electric power to save fuel.

The law does not set new requirements for carmakers to build vehicles that use less fuel. But it does require more ethanol production. Ethanol is fuel made with grain.

The Energy Policy Act of two thousand five simplifies rules for the oil and gas industries to build new processing centers. It expands the Strategic Oil Reserve. And it permits greater use of federal land for energy exploration.

The new law provides money for research on cleaner-burning coal and on hydrogen fuel. Also, it establishes a partnership with India, China, Australia, Japan and South Korea to develop clean energy.

But critics point out that the law does not place limits on some forms of pollution like carbon dioxide.

The administration worked for an energy bill in Congress since two thousand one. Some early proposals were not included in the final bill. For example, Congress did not permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Lawmakers also denied legal protection to fuel makers from claims over the chemical M.T.B.E. It is widely added to gasoline to reduce pollution. But it has also leaked into drinking water supplies. Its use will be banned in ten years.

Americans will see one effect of the new energy policy in two thousand seven: more daylight in the spring and fall. The government will add a month to Daylight Saving Time. Timing devices programmed with the current dates will have to be reset.

President Bush signed the energy bill on Monday in New Mexico. On Wednesday, in Illinois, he signed a transportation bill that was popular in Congress. It provides two hundred eighty-six thousand million dollars over six years for roads, bridges and other projects.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are online at I'm Bob Doughty.


CHEVRON OFFER FOR UNOCAL APPROVED Shareholders in the American energy company Unocal voted on August tenth to accept a nearly eighteen thousand million dollar takeover by Chevron. The Chinese company CNOOC recently withdrew a higher offer for Unocal because of political resistance. See earlier stories at the top of the right column.