SPOKESMAN: The Conference report is agreed to.
RAY SUAREZ: The overwhelming Senate passage of the energy bill today came after years of stalemate. The wide-ranging legislation, which President Bush has sought to pass since taking office in 2001, was approved 74-26.
The 1,725-page bill includes $14.5 billion in tax breaks and financial incentives for oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies to encourage more domestic energy production; strengthens the nation's electricity grid; and sets money aside for the development of alternative fuels and vehicles that use them.
It also includes a provision to extend Daylight Saving Time by one month to decrease energy consumption. Republican Pete Domenici of New Mexico was one of the bill's authors.
SEN. PETE DOMENICI: I can tell you, we will be safer, we will have more jobs; we will have an electric system that is safe and sound.
We will have diversity of energy sources and supplies built in our country for us, spending our money, creating our jobs and many more things.
RAY SUAREZ: The House approved the bill by a vote of 275-156 yesterday afternoon. Republicans in that chamber had abandoned a provision that would have given the producers of a fuel additive called MTBE liability protection.
Lawsuits stemming from the chemical's contamination of drinking water supplies have been filed in some 30 states.
Attempts to raise fuel economy standards for passenger cars or trucks were also rejected for the final bill. During a press conference yesterday, Democratic Sen. John Kerry said the legislation failed to curb U.S. energy demands.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: America has no challenge in this bill to reduce oil consumption by any fixed level whatsoever.
Instead, billions of the American taxpayer dollars are going to go the oil and gas and nuclear industries.
Americans get no relief at the pump, and we are left in the end more dependent on foreign oil.
RAY SUAREZ: President Bush in a statement released today pledged to sign the energy bill into law.