WASHINGTON - Soon, you won't find those old-fashioned 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs in stores. You will be able to buy more energy-efficient appliances. And you will see labels on TVs and computers that tell you how much energy they consume.
You will see stickers on new cars that specify not only how many miles they get per gallon, but also the greenhouse gases they emit. And when you pull up to the pump, you will fill your car with a mixture of gasoline and made-in-the-USA biofuel.
Those are some of the ways the new energy bill will affect everyday life.
Congress yesterday gave final approval to the 822-page measure, sending it up Pennsylvania Avenue to President Bush in a hybrid Toyota Prius. Bush is scheduled to sign the bill, which includes the first congressional increase in vehicle fuel-economy standards in 32 years, at a ceremony today at the Energy Department.
Although the tougher miles-per-gallon rules have grabbed the headlines, the bill includes lower-profile measures aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil and cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
"In this bill, we ban by 2012 the famously inefficient 100-watt incandescent bulb," said Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.), who cosponsored that provision.
The House gave final approval yesterday to the measure, 314-100; all Philadelphia-area lawmakers voted for it except Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.). The Senate approved the bill last week, 86-8.
In addition to the 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for new cars and light trucks by 2020, for a fleet-wide average of 35 m.p.g., the bill requires an increase to 36 billion gallons in the amount of alternative homegrown fuels, such as ethanol, that must be added to the nation's gasoline supply annually by 2022.
Rep. John D. Dingell (D., Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the bill would improve the energy efficiency of "almost every significant product and tool and appliance that we use, from lightbulbs to light trucks."
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington-based think tank, has projected that the bill will reduce energy use by 7 percent and carbon-dioxide emissions by 9 percent in 2030.
The council has estimated that the bill will save consumers and businesses more than $400 billion between now and 2030, "accounting for both energy-cost savings and the moderately higher price of energy-efficient products."
Energy analysts project that, although the tougher miles-per-gallon rules will add about $1,500 to the price of a vehicle, consumers will save $5,000 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, once the new standards are fully in place.
Not everyone agrees about the benefits to consumers.
"The vehicles that are going to meet this 35-mile-per-gallon standard in the year 2020 are probably going to cost $10,000 to $15,000 more than they do today," Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during House debate. Barton also contended the bill would raise the cost of homes, appliances and even bulbs.
Food-industry groups say the mandate for increased production of homegrown fuel, including corn-based ethanol, could drive up food prices. Scott Faber of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said the renewable-fuel standard "won't give us cheaper gas, but it will give us costlier meat, milk and eggs."
Lowell Ungar, director of policy at the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington coalition of business, consumer, environmental and government leaders, said that more energy-efficient lightbulbs would be more expensive but that consumers would, over the long run, save money on their utility bills.
Highlights of The Energy Bill
It requires automakers to increase
the fuel economy of cars and small trucks, including SUVs,
by 40 percent, to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
It mandates a sixfold increase
in the use of ethanol as a
motor fuel, to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, with 21 billion gallons to be cellulosic ethanol from such feedstock as prairie grass and wood chips.
It requires more energy-efficient lighting and appliances, including refrigerators, and more energy-efficient federal and commercial buildings. It also requires faster approval of federal energy-efficiency standards.
SOURCE: Associated Press