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US Bill is 'turning point' in use of fossil fuels

By David Usborne in New York

Long criticised for its gas-guzzling greed, the United States has passed sweeping legislation to reduce fossil fuel consumption significantly. Elements of the Bill include a mandatory increase in minimum fuel efficiency for cars that, when in place, will be the equivalent of taking 28 million vehicles off American roads.

Other provisions of the Bill, signed into law by President George Bush, will aim to phase out incandescent light bulbs after 2012 and increase six-fold the production of renewable fuels for car engines, notably ethanol made from products such as corn and wood chips. The Bill envisages cars in the US using 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022, six times today's volume.

By 2012, the 25mpg average in force today for cars, SUVs and light trucks will be raised to 35mpg. That alone should trim US oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels a day. And by 2030, all federal buildings will be have to be carbon-neutral

The new legislation was approved by a massive 314-to-100 majority in the House of Representatives, with many Republicans joining Democrats.

Other provisions originally supported by Democrats were removed for fear of a veto from Mr Bush, including the elimination of tax-breaks for big oil corporations and a requirement on energy generating companies to rely more heavily on solar and wind power.

The Bill was hailed by most environmental groups as a milestone in America's efforts to get to grips with its energy-gobbling instincts.

Belfast Telegraph


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